Design and evaluation of flow distributors for microfabricated pillar array columns

Joris Vangelooven, Wim de Malsche, Jeff Op de Beeck, Hamed Eghbali, Johannes G.E. Gardeniers, Gert Desmet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Five different flow distributors have been compared as a function of the flow rate for their ability to distribute small sample volumes over the entire width of flat rectangular microfabricated pillar array columns. The investigated designs can be divided in two major categories: (1) bifurcating, radially non-interconnecting distributors and (2) radially interconnecting distributors consisting of diamond-shaped pillars, elongated in the direction perpendicular to the flow, providing a high ratio of radial permeability over axial permeability. The quality of the flow distribution was evaluated experimentally by injecting equal volumes of fluorescent tracer into each of the tested designs and calculating the obtained peak variances using the method of moments. Purely bifurcating distributors perform less well than the best possible radially interconnected distributors, because the former inevitably require the use of wide open channels (d > 10 μm), wherein a lot of band broadening can occur. By doubling the aspect ratio of the radially stretched pillars from 5 to 10, the measured peak variance drops to 1/8 of the original value. The best results were obtained with a distributor in which the flow is distributed by a bed of anisotropic pillars with an aspect ratio of 10, but our results indicate that a substantial improvement can still be made by increasing the aspect ratio and adding gradually diverging sidewalls to the inlet
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)349-356
Number of pages8
JournalLab on a chip
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • IR-94219
  • METIS-263546

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