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Technical Briefs

Application of Axiomatic Design Theory to a Microfluidic Device for the Production of Uniform Water-in-Oil Microspheres Adapting an Integration Method

[+] Author and Article Information
Ki-Young Song

Division of Biomedical Engineering,  University of Saskatchewan, 57 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5A9, Canada

Wen-Jun Zhang1

Madan M. Gupta

Division of Biomedical Engineering,  University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5A9, Canada; Department of Mechanical Engineering,  University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5A9, Canada

1

Corresponding author.

J. Manuf. Sci. Eng 134(4), 044504 (Jun 27, 2012) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4006771 History: Received September 19, 2011; Accepted April 16, 2012; Published June 26, 2012; Online June 27, 2012

This work describes a novel microfluidic method to generate uniform water-in-oil (W/O) microspheres using the phase separation technique. Axiomatic design theory (ADT) was employed for the conceptual design of microchannel systems, and ADT verified that the proposed microfluidic system is a decoupled design. The integration of hydrodynamic flow focusing method and crossflow method is realized in a microfluidic device with oil phase and aqueous phase. The immiscible fluids are fed by continuous air pressure. By the hydrodynamic flow focusing method, the width of the dispersed focused aqueous phase is controlled. The focused flow enters T-junction geometry downstream, and the crossflow interferes with the focused flow. By varying the applied pressure to the crossflow, the W/O microspheres are formed at the T-junction. Based on this approach, the size of the W/O microspheres can be successfully controlled from 16 μm to 35 μm in diameter within about 5% of variation. The present method has advantages such as good sphericity, few satellite droplets, active control of the microsphere diameter, and high throughput with the simple and low cost process. To achieve the promising results, this integrating method reveals high potential for production of polymer based microspheres.

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Copyright © 2012 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 1

(a) The photograph of the microfluidic device. (b) The schematic diagram of the encircled microchannel in (a) and the mechanism of microsphere generation. The sheath flow and crossflow are oil phase, and the focused sample flow is aqueous phase. The arrows show the flow directions (D: width of the channel).

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Figure 2

The experimental setup

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Figure 3

The microscope image of the break-up from the focused sample flow jet by the crossflow. The applied pressures are 10.5 psi, 13 psi, and 27 psi for sheath flows, sample flow, and crossflow, respectively. The bar in the image represents 40 μm.

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Figure 4

The size of neck width of the focused flow jet with respect to the applied pressure to the crossflow. The pressures to sheath flows and sample flow, respectively, are (a) 5.25 psi × 6.75 psi, (b) 6.25 psi × 7.5 psi, (c) 7.25 psi × 8.5 psi, and (d) 10.5 psi × 13 psi.

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Figure 5

The size of microspheres with the error bar and CV by varying the applied pressure to the crossflow. The applied pressures to sheath flows and sample flow, respectively, are (a) 5.25 psi × 6.75 psi, (b) 6.25 psi × 7.5 psi, (c) 7.25 psi × 8.5 psi, and (d) 10.5 psi × 13 psi.

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Figure 6

The microscope images of W/O microspheres and the size distribution with different pressures: (a) 5.25 psi × 6.75 psi × 8 psi, (b) 6.25 psi × 7.5 psi × 12 psi, (c) 7.25 psi × 8.5 psi × 16.5 psi, and (d) 10.5 psi × 13 psi × 27 psi (sheath flows × sample flows × crossflow). The bar in the images represents 40 μm.

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