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Optimal Control of Colloidal Trajectories in Inertial Microfluidics Using the Saffman Effect

Rühle, Felix; Schaaf, Christian; Stark, Holger

In inertial microfluidics colloidal particles in a Poiseuille flow experience the Segré-Silberberg lift force, which drives them to specific positions in the channel cross section. An external force applied along the microchannel induces a cross-streamline migration to a new equilibrium position because of the Saffman effect. We apply optimal control theory to design the time protocol of the axial control force in order to steer a single particle as precisely as possible from a channel inlet to an outlet at a chosen target position. We discuss the influence of particle radius and channel length and show that optimal steering is cheaper than using a constant control force. Using a single optimized control-force protocol, we demonstrate that even a pulse of particles spread along the channel axis can be steered to a target and that particles of different radii can be separarted most efficiently.
Published in: Micromachines, 10.3390/mi11060592, MDPI