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Lab Chip. 2008 Jul;8(7):1097-103. doi: 10.1039/b719381e. Epub 2008 May 13.

Two simple and rugged designs for creating microfluidic sheath flow.

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  • 1Center for Bio/Molecular Science and Engineering, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC 20375-5348, USA.


A simple design capable of 2-dimensional hydrodynamic focusing is proposed and successfully demonstrated. In the past, most microfluidic sheath flow systems have often only confined the sample solution on the sides, leaving the top and bottom of the sample stream in contact with the floor and ceiling of the channel. While relatively simple to build, these designs increase the risk of adsorption of sample components to the top and bottom of the channel. A few designs have been successful in completely sheathing the sample stream, but these typically require multiple sheath inputs and several alignment steps. In the designs presented here, full sheathing is accomplished using as few as one sheath input, which eliminates the need to carefully balance the flow of two or more sheath inlets. The design is easily manufactured using current microfabrication techniques. Furthermore, the sample and sheath fluid can be subsequently separated for recapture of the sample fluid or re-use of the sheath fluid. Designs were demonstrated in poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) using soft lithography and poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) using micromilling and laser ablation.

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