Design and simulation of a microfluidic device for acoustic cell separation

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Experimental acoustic cell separation methods have been widely used to perform separation for different types of blood cells. However, numerical simulation of acoustic cell separation has not gained enough attention and needs further investigation since by using numerical methods, it is possible to optimize different parameters involved in the design of an acoustic device and calculate particle trajectories in a simple and low cost manner before spending time and effort for fabricating these devices. In this study, we present a comprehensive finite element-based simulation of acoustic separation of platelets, red blood cells and white blood cells, using standing surface acoustic waves (SSAWs). A microfluidic channel with three inlets, including the middle inlet for sheath flow and two symmetrical tilted angle inlets for the cells were used to drive the cells through the channel. Two interdigital transducers were also considered in this device and by implementing an alternating voltage to the transducers, an acoustic field was created which can exert the acoustic radiation force to the cells. Since this force is dependent to the size of the cells, the cells are pushed towards the midline of the channel with different path lines. Particle trajectories for different cells were obtained and compared with a theoretical equation. Two types of separations were observed as a result of varying the amplitude of the acoustic field. In the first mode of separation, white blood cells were sorted out through the middle outlet and in the second mode of separation, platelets were sorted out through the side outlets. Depending on the clinical needs and by using the studied microfluidic device, each of these modes can be applied to separate the desired cells.

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