Numerical investigation of the formation and stability of homogeneous pairs of soft particles in inertial microfluidics

Ben Owen*, Timm Krüger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We investigate the formation and stability of a pair of identical soft capsules in channel flow under mild inertia. We employ a combination of the lattice Boltzmann, finite element and immersed boundary methods to simulate the elastic particles in flow. Validation tests show excellent agreement with numerical results obtained by other research groups. Our results reveal new trajectory types that have not been observed for pairs of rigid particles. While particle softness increases the likelihood of a stable pair forming, the pair stability is determined by the lateral position of the particles. A key finding is that stabilisation of the axial distance occurs after lateral migration of the particles. During the later phase of pair formation, particles undergo damped oscillations that are independent of initial conditions. These damped oscillations are driven by a strong hydrodynamic coupling of the particle dynamics, particle inertia and viscous dissipation. While the frequency and damping coefficient of the oscillations depend on particle softness, the pair formation time is largely determined by the initial particle positions: the time to form a stable pair grows exponentially with the initial axial distance. Our results demonstrate that particle softness has a strong impact on the behaviour of particle pairs. The findings could have significant ramifications for microfluidic applications where a constant and reliable axial distance between particles is required, such as flow cytometry.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA4
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Early online date22 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Inertial microfluidics
  • Lattice Boltzmann method
  • immersed boundary method
  • particle pairs
  • Flow cytometry
  • capsule
  • fluid flow
  • particle
  • microfluidics
  • cell dynamics


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