Study of flow behaviors on single-cell manipulation and shear stress reduction in microfluidic chips using computational fluid dynamics simulations

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number014109
Journal / PublicationBiomicrofluidics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


Various single-cell retention structures (SCRSs) were reported for analysis of single cells within microfluidic devices. Undesirable flow behaviors within micro-environments not only influence single-cell manipulation and retention significantly but also lead to cell damage, biochemical heterogeneity among different individual cells (e.g., different cell signaling pathways induced by shear stress). However, the fundamentals in flow behaviors for single-cell manipulation and shear stress reduction, especially comparison of these behaviors in different microstructures, were not fully investigated in previous reports. Herein, flow distribution and induced shear stress in two different single-cell retention structures (SCRS I and SCRS II) were investigated in detail to study their effects on single-cell trapping using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) methods. The results were successfully verified by experimental results. Comparison between these two SCRS shows that the wasp-waisted configuration of SCRS II has a better performance in trapping and manipulating long cylinder-shaped cardiac myocytes and provides a safer "harbor" for fragile cells to prevent cell damage due to the shear stress induced from strong flows. The simulation results have not only explained flow phenomena observed in experiments but also predict new flow phenomena, providing guidelines for new chip design and optimization, and a better understanding of the cell micro-environment and fundamentals of microfluidic flows in single-cell manipulation and analysis.

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