Inertial Microfluidics

Leveraging fluid mechanics to control particles and fluid

In many microfluidics systems, fluid flow is dominated by viscous forces, with typical flow exhibiting highly predictable laminar behavior in the transport of fluid or biological materials. As fluid inertia becomes more dominant (e.g., with higher flow rates), interesting nonlinear effects arise in the behavior of the fluid and materials in flow. For example, a significant discovery of inertial flow physics was by Segré and Silberberg in the 1960's, who flowed neutrally buoyant spheres within pipes at inertial flow speeds and observed that the spheres focused to a circular annulus at ~0.6R (for a pipe with a radius R). Since that time, additional properties of inertial flows have been discovered, much of which has emerged from the microfluidics community due to facile processes for creating and investigating fluid flow in microfluidic devices.



The Di Carlo lab coined the term “inertial microfluidics” in 2008 and has been a pioneer of inertial microfluidics research. As a bioengineering laboratory, our work lies at the intersection of fundamental study and applied biology, exploring the basic mechanics of inertial flows, and finding new ways to utilize these physics for new platforms for biological analysis, cellular engineering, and advanced materials. Foundational projects in our lab include employing high-throughput inertial flows to order and sort cells, isolating particles or cells in cavity flows based on size and/or shape, characterizing cells based on their deformability, and using bluff-body obstacles to induce changes in the structure of flowing fluid to 3D print microparticles at high rates.

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Di Carlo D, Hur SC, and Mach A. "Method and device for isolating cells from heterogeneous solution
using microfluidic trapping vortices." U.S. Patent No. 9133499, Japanese Patent No. 5920895, Chinese
Patent Nos. 103261436 and 104741157, Australian Patent No. 2011302302.

Di Carlo D and Dhar M. "Integrated system for isolation and emulsification of particles and cells." U.S.
Patent Application No. 20180056294.

Di Carlo D and Dhar M. "High efficiency microfluidic device for trapping circulating tumor cells." W.O.
Patent Application No. 2016205742.

Di Carlo D, Go D, Masaeli M, and Sollier E. "Apparatus and method for label-free analysis of rare cells
from bodily fluids." W.O. Patent Application No. 2015200857.

Di Carlo D and Hur SC. "Systems and methods for particle classification and sorting." U.S. Patent No.

Di Carlo, Hamed A, and Sollier E. "Devices and methods for programming fluid flow using sequenced
microstructures." Japanese Patent No. 6075735, Chinese Patent No. 103987971, Australian Patent No.

Di Carlo D, Masaeli M, and Sollier E. "Devices and methods for shape-based particle separation." U.S.
Patent No. 9333510, E.P. Patent No. 2761303, Japanese Patent No. 6031109, Chinese Patent No.
103959069, Australian Patent No. 2012352879.

Di Carlo D and Lee W. "Particle focusing systems and methods." U.S. Patent Application No.

Di Carlo D, Gossett D, and Tse H. "Method and device for high-throughput solution exchange for cell and
particle suspension." U.S. Patent Nos. 9522344, 9815060, 10226769. E.P. Patent No. 2641094.

Di Carlo D, Ozcan A, Jalali B, Hur SC, and Tse H. "Inertial particle focusing flow cytometer." U.S. Patent
No. 8693762.

Di Carlo D and Gossett D. "Inertial particle focusing system." U.S. Patent No. 8361415.

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