Particle separation is of great interest in many biological and biomedical applications. Flow-based methods have been used to sort particles and cells. However, the main challenge with flow based particle separation systems is the need for a sheath flow for successful operation. Existence of the sheath liquid dilutes the analyte, necessitates precise flow control between sample and sheath flow, requires a complicated design to create sheath flow and separation efficiency depends on the sheath liquid composition. In this paper, we present a microfluidic platform for sheathless particle separation using standing surface acoustic waves. In this platform, particles are first lined up at the center of the channel without introducing any external sheath flow. The particles are then entered into the second stage where particles are driven towards the off-center pressure nodes for size based separation. The larger particles are exposed to more lateral displacement in the channel due to the acoustic force differences. Consequently, different-size particles are separated into multiple collection outlets. The prominent feature of the present microfluidic platform is that the device does not require the use of the sheath flow for positioning and aligning of particles. Instead, the sheathless flow focusing and separation are integrated within a single microfluidic device and accomplished simultaneously. In this paper, we demonstrated two different particle size-resolution separations; (1) 3 μm and 10 μm and (2) 3 μm and 5 μm. Also, the effects of the input power, the flow rate, and particle concentration on the separation efficiency were investigated. These technologies have potential to impact broadly various areas including the essential microfluidic components for lab-on-a-chip system and integrated biological and biomedical applications.
This article is published on line in Sensors and is free to access.