3D manipulation and dynamics of soft materials in 3D flows

Michael Q. Tu, Hung V. Nguyen, Elliel Foley, Michael I. Jacobs, Charles M. Schroeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Flow-based manipulation of particles is an essential tool for studying soft materials, but prior work has nearly exclusively relied on using two-dimensional (2D) flows generated in planar microfluidic geometries. In this work, we demonstrate 3D trapping and manipulation of freely suspended particles, droplets, and giant unilamellar vesicles in 3D flow fields using automated flow control. Three-dimensional flow fields including uniaxial extension and biaxial extension are generated in 3D-printed fluidic devices combined with active feedback control for particle manipulation in 3D. Flow fields are characterized using particle tracking velocimetry complemented by finite-element simulations for all flow geometries. Single colloidal particles (3.4 μm diameter) are confined in low viscosity solvent (1.0 mPa s) near the stagnation points of uniaxial and biaxial extensional flow for long times (≥10 min) using active feedback control. Trap stiffness is experimentally determined by analyzing the power spectral density of particle position fluctuations. We further demonstrate precise manipulation of colloidal particles along user-defined trajectories in three dimensions using automated flow control. Newtonian liquid droplets and GUVs are trapped and deformed in precisely controlled uniaxial and biaxial extensional flows, which is a new demonstration for 3D flow fields. Overall, this work extends flow-based manipulation of particles and droplets to three dimensions, thereby enabling quantitative analysis of colloids and soft materials in complex nonequilibrium flows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)877-890
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Rheology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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