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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Microfluidic gas flow profiling using remote detection NMR

  • Author(s): Hilty, Christian;
  • McDonnell, Erin;
  • Granwehr, Josef;
  • Pierce, Kimberly;
  • Han, Song-I Han;
  • Pines, Alexander
  • et al.

Miniaturized fluid handling devices have recently attracted considerable interest in many areas of science1. Such microfluidic chips perform a variety of functions, ranging from analysis of biological macromolecules2,3 to catalysis of reactions and sensing in the gas phase4,5. To enable precise fluid handling, accurate knowledge of the flow properties within these devices is important. Due to low Reynolds numbers, laminar flow is usually assumed. However, either by design or unintentionally, the flow characteristic in small channels is often altered, for example by surface interactions, viscous and diffusional effects, or electrical potentials. Therefore, its prediction is not always straight-forward6-8. Currently, most microfluidic flow measurements rely on optical detection of markers9,10, requiring the injection of tracers and transparent devices. Here, we show profiles of microfluidic gas flow in capillaries and chip devices obtained by NMR in the remote detection modality11,12. Through the transient measurement of dispersion13, NMR is well adaptable for non-invasive, yet sensitive determination of the flow field and provides a novel and potentially more powerful tool to profile flow in capillaries and miniaturized flow devices.

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