Single line particle focusing induced by viscoelasticity of the suspending liquid: theory, experiments and simulations to design a micropipe flow-focuser
We perform 3D numerical simulations, heuristic modeling and microfluidic experiments to demonstrate, for the first time, the presence of a bistability scenario for transversal migration of particles suspended in a viscoelastic liquid flowing in a pipe. Our results show that particle migration, either at the centerline or at the wall, can be controlled by the rheological properties of the suspending liquid and by the relative dimensions of the particle and tube. Proper selection of these parameters can promote strict aligning of particles on a line, i.e., 3-D focusing. Simple design rules are given to rationally control particle focusing under flow in micropipes.