Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Engineering - Materials Engineering


Materials Engineering


Richard Savage


The flow profiles of pressure-driven and electro-kinetic driven flows were compared for a microfluidic chip. It was found that the pressure-driven flow had a parabolic profile while the electro-kinetic flow had a plug shaped flow profile. The measured velocities were similar to those determined by the Poiseuille flow model and the Helmholtz-Smoltchowski equation. Flow uniformity is very important for control in microfluidic mixers. Parabolic flow profiles lead to inconsistent reactions while the more uniform plug shape flow allow for a more steady reaction across the channel. Previous work had been performed to measure the flow of a solution of fluorescent polystyrene beads in PDMS channels using a laser confocal microscope. This showed that particles easily stuck to the channel making it difficult to measure over time. In addition, bubble formation in the channel made measuring velocities difficult. Current work used a LabSmith Video Synchronized microscope with software to measure the flow rates at different areas of the channel. Solutions of fluorescent polystyrene beads were used to visually observe the flow within a channel under a microscope. Four different channels were used for the pressure-driven flows of varying dimensions and materials. The channel with the best measured profile was also measured under electro-kinetic flow. A LabSmith High Voltage Sequencer was used to apply a voltage across the channel for electro-kinetic measurements. This research confirmed the different flow profiles under pressure-driven and electro-kinetic driven flow. Future work can be done to determine how this effects mixing in the channels.