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Anal Chem. 2006 Jul 1;78(13):4299-306.

Optimization of a microfluidic mixer for studying protein folding kinetics.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


We have applied an optimization method in conjunction with numerical simulations to minimize the mixing time of a microfluidic mixer developed for protein folding studies. The optimization method uses a semideterministic algorithm to find the global minimum of the mixing time by varying the mixer geometry and flow conditions. We describe the minimization problem and constraints and give a brief overview of the optimization algorithm. We present results of the optimization, including the optimized geometry and parameter sensitivities, and we demonstrate the improvement in mixing performance with experiments using microfabricated mixers. The dye-quenching experiments of the original and optimized mixer designs show respective mixing times of 7 and 4 mus, a 40% reduction. The new design also provides more uniform mixing across streamlines that enter the mixer. The optimized mixer is the fastest reported continuous flow mixer for protein folding.

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