Assembly and Characterization of an External Driver for the Generation of Sub-Kilohertz Oscillatory Flow in Microchannels

Giridar Vishwanathan, Gabriel Juarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microfluidic technology has become a standard tool in chemical and biological laboratories for both analysis and synthesis. The injection of liquid samples, such as chemical reagents and cell cultures, is predominantly accomplished through steady flows that are typically driven by syringe pumps, gravity, or capillary forces. The use of complementary oscillatory flows is seldom considered in applications despite its numerous advantages as recently demonstrated in the literature. The significant technical barrier to the implementation of oscillatory flows in microchannels is likely responsible for the lack of its widespread adoption. Advanced commercial syringe pumps that can produce oscillatory flow, are often more expensive and only work for frequencies less than 1 Hz. Here, the assembly and operation of a low-cost, plug-and-play type speaker-based apparatus that generates oscillatory flow in microchannels is demonstrated. High-fidelity harmonic oscillatory flows with frequencies ranging from 10-1000 Hz can be achieved along with independent amplitude control. Amplitudes ranging from 10-600 µm can be achieved throughout the entire range of operation, including amplitudes > 1 mm at the resonant frequency, in a typical microchannel. Although the oscillation frequency is determined by the speaker, we illustrate that the oscillation amplitude is sensitive to fluid properties and channel geometry. Specifically, the oscillation amplitude decreases with increasing channel circuit length and liquid viscosity, and in contrast, the amplitude increases with increasing speaker tube thickness and length. Additionally, the apparatus requires no prior features to be designed on the microchannel and is easily detachable. It can be used simultaneously with a steady flow created by a syringe pump to generate pulsatile flows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere63294
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number179
StatePublished - Jan 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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