Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Rasim Guldiken


Acoustic radiation force, Acoustic streaming, Interdigital transducer, Microfluidics, Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), Surface acoustic wave


Particle separation is of great interest to 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 addition, current gold standard active separation techniques are only capable of separation based on particle size; hence, separation cannot be achieved for same-size particles with different densities. In this dissertation, a sheathless acoustic-based microfluidic platform using surface acoustic wave for not only size-dependent but also density-dependent particle separation has been investigated. In this platform, two different functions were incorporated within a single microfluidic channel with varying the number of pressure node and position. The first function was to align particles on the center of the microfluidic channel without adding any external sheath flow. The second function was to separate particles according to their size or density. Two different size-pairs of polystyrene particles with different diameters (3 µm and 10 µm for general size-resolution, 3 µm and 5 µm for higher size-resolution) were successfully separated. Also, the separation of two 10 µm diameter, different-density particle streams (polystyrene: 1.05 g/cm3, melamine: 1.71 g/cm3) was successfully demonstrated. The effects of the input power, the flow rate, and particle concentration on the separation efficiency were investigated. A range of high separation efficiencies with 94.8-100 % for size-based separation and 87.2 - 98.9 % for density-based separation were accomplished.

In this dissertation, an acoustic-based microfluidic platform using dual acoustic streaming for active mixing has also been investigated. The rapid and high efficiency mixing of a fluorescent dye solution and deionized water in a microfluidic channel was demonstrated with single acoustic excitation by one interdigital transducer (IDT) as well as dual excitation by two IDTs. The mixing efficiencies were investigated as a function of applied voltage and flow rates. The results indicate that with the same operation parameters, the mixing efficiency with dual-IDT design increased to 96.7 % from 69.8 % achievable with the traditional single-IDT design. The effect of aperture length of the IDT on mixing efficiency was also investigated.

Additionally, the effects of the polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) channel wall thickness on the insertion loss and the particle migration to the pressure node due to acoustic radiation forces induced by SAW have been investigated. The results indicate that as the PDMS channel wall thickness decreased, the SAW insertion loss is reduced as well as the velocity of the particle migration due to acoustic forces increased significantly. As an example, reducing the side wall thickness of the PDMS channel from 8 mm to 2 mm in the design results in 31.2 % decrease in the insertion loss at the resonant frequency of 13.3 MHz and 186 % increase the particle migration velocity at the resonant frequency of 13.3 MHz with input power of 27 dBm.

Lastly, a novel acoustic-based method of manipulating the particles using phase-shift has been proposed and demonstrated. The location of the pressure node was adjusted simply by modulating the relative phase difference (phase-shift) between two IDTs. As a result, polystyrene particles of 5 µm diameter trapped in the pressure node were manipulated laterally across the microfluidic channel. The lateral displacements of the particles from -72.5 µm to 73.1 µm along the x-direction were accomplished by varying the phase-shift with a range of -180° to 180°. The relationship between the particle displacement and the phase-shift of SAW was obtained experimentally and shown to agree with theoretical prediction of the particle position.