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Biomed Microdevices. 2010 Aug;12(4):619-26. doi: 10.1007/s10544-010-9414-5.

A computational and experimental study inside microfluidic systems: the role of shear stress and flow recirculation in cell docking.

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Laboratory of Biological Structure Mechanics, Department of Structural Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy.


In this paper, microfluidic devices containing microwells that enabled cell docking were investigated. We theoretically assessed the effect of geometry on recirculation areas and wall shear stress patterns within microwells and studied the relationship between the computational predictions and experimental cell docking. We used microchannels with 150 microm diameter microwells that had either 20 or 80 microm thickness. Flow within 80 microm deep microwells was subject to extensive recirculation areas and low shear stresses (<0.5 mPa) near the well base; whilst these were only presented within a 10 microm peripheral ring in 20 microm thick microwells. We also experimentally demonstrated that cell docking was significantly higher (p < 0.01) in 80 microm thick microwells as compared to 20 microm thick microwells. Finally, a computational tool which correlated physical and geometrical parameters of microwells with their fluid dynamic environment was developed and was also experimentally confirmed.

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