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Image Analysis of Microfluidics: Visualization of Flow at the Microscale

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.679.1 - 23.679.17



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Paper Authors

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Michael G Mauk P.E. Drexel University

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Richard Chiou Drexel University (Eng.)

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Vladimir Genis Drexel University (Tech.)


M. Eric Carr Drexel University Orcid 16x16

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Mr. Eric Carr is currently the laboratory technician for Drexel University's Engineering Technology program. Carr assists faculty members with the development and implementation of various Engineering Technology courses, and enjoys finding innovative ways to use microcontrollers and other technologies to enhance Drexel's Engineering Technology course offerings. Eric holds an M.S. in Computer Engineering from Drexel University and is the author of several recent technical papers in the field of Engineering Technology Education.

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Microfluidics is the study and application of fluid flow at the microscale. As a representativeimplementation, a microfluidic ‘chip’ can be fabricated by defining a fluidic network of channels,conduits, chambers, filters and packed beds, valves, and interconnection ports in a clear plasticsubstrate. Feature sizes (e.g., channel widths) range from 0.1 to several millimeters. Fluid actuation andflow control in the microfluidic circuit can be effected by a number of different mechanisms to performchemical analysis and synthesis, active heat transfer, and various biotechnical applications such as cellculture and medical diagnostics. Our aims here are to develop simple microfluidic systems foreducational and research purposes related to fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, and liquid-phasereaction kinetics. These microfluidic chips can be rapidly prototyped in acrylic or polycarbonate sheetsusing CAD software (AutoCAD or SolidWorks), CO2 laser machining, 3-D printing, and computernumerical control (CNC) milling. Chips can be designed, fabricated, and mounted for imaging in thespan of several hours, employing skill sets typical of undergraduate engineering students (rapidprototyping, process control and data acquisition with LabVIEW or microcontrollers, machine visionwith CCD cameras, and image analysis with MATLAB or ImageJ). We use image capture (CCD videos),processing, and analysis of microfluidic operations as a means of characterizing fluid flow and fluidproperties. The fluid flow in the chip is contrasted using color or fluorescent dyes. Fluid flow undergravity, by surface tension (capillarity), or driven pneumatically or hydraulically with a syringe pump,with an external magnetic in the case of ferrofluids, as well as buoyancy-driven flow or thermal-gradient-driven flow, can be imaged with a CCD or thermal camera and analyzed with image processingsoftware. The position of flow fronts as a function of time, and according to various parameters(channel size and geometry, temperature, viscosity, and surface tension (as modified by surfactants),can be modeled. These techniques contribute a highly visual, multidisciplinary approach to learningfundamental engineering sciences at modest cost.

Mauk, M. G., & Chiou, R., & Genis, V., & Carr, M. E. (2013, June), Image Analysis of Microfluidics: Visualization of Flow at the Microscale Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19693

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