United BOINC

 
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

uFluids

E-mail Print PDF
User Rating: / 5
PoorBest 
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

μFluids

μFluids project (Pronounced "Micro Fluids"), is a massively distributed computer simulation of two-phase fluid behavior in microgravity and microfluidics problems. Our goal is to design better satellite propellant management devices and address two-phase flow in microchannel and MEMS devices.

μFluids project URL; http://www.ufluids.net/

About μFluids

μFluids
Homepage
Getting started
Download BOINC
Download BOINC
Create account
Create account
Get help
Participants
Your account
Community
Participant profiles
Statistics
Top participants
Information
Server status

Digital microfluidic processor mixing droplets inside the chipThe advent of the integrated circuit in 1959 led to the miniaturization and development of a plethora of commercial and industrial devices. However, these miniature circuits are no longer limited to transistors and capacitors. Motors, valves, and sensors can be combined with electronic components to form a complete system. Just as integrated circuits have revolutionized electronics, so MEMS (microelectrical-mechanical systems) will revolutionize medical devices, biosensors and consumer products of the future.

Nevertheless, MEMS has several formidable technical hurdles to overcome. Fluid behavior, in particular surface tension, is significantly different at these small scales. This weak surface force gains importance and dominates at micron length scales due to the high surface area to volume ratio. For example, the pressure required to force a bubble through a circular micro-channel into a water reservoir can exceed 100 kPa (~1 atmosphere), a pressure well above the specifications of many micropumps. Obviously, tasks such as filling a channel and purging a gas bubble are not trivial. Unfortunately, o generic set of design rules for the exact geometry of filling-friendly microfluidic structures exists up to now.

microfluidics is used the aerospace industryFuel cells, like MEMS devices, are affected by surface tension phenomena. New cell designs incorporate smaller channels, down to 5 µm, to enhance transport and improve efficiency. However, gas slugs can form in channels of electrode membranes due to sloshing or chemical reactions resulting in a decrease in efficiency. These readily block these smaller channels and are difficult to flush out. Utilization of capillary forces, channel geometry, or other effects must be done in order to achieve optimal cell performance and reliability.

Objective

False color image of temperature at the surface of a MEMS microheater. Image credit: ieee.orgWhile progress has been made in understanding micro-capillary phenomenon, MEMS component design has not taken advantage of this knowledge to address two-phase flow blockage and liquid filling in channels and channel junctions. The objective of this proposed research is to investigate how channel geometry and material selection affect bubble formation, stability, and breakup. Surface tension modifying techniques, such as electro-wetting and hydrophobic/hydrophilic coatings, will be also considered. Ultimately, optimal designs and practical recommendations will result in simple, cost-effective, reliable MEMS devices.

Research Methodology

  1. Research lithography and micromachining techniques and materials in regards to channel formation, physical properties, and manufacturing costs/issues
  2. Collect topologies found in pumps, valves, sensors, and channels
  3. Establish quantitative models for electro-capillary and thermo-capillary effects
  4. Compute the static stability of bubbles in junctions and channels
  5. Model the dynamical formation and destabilization of these blockages
  6. Experimentally verify selected results
  7. Develop engineering guidelines for complete filling/draining of micro-channels 

Fig 1: Cross section of DRIE
Fig 2: KOH anisotropic etch

Fig 1: Cross section of DRIEWhile progress has been made in understanding micro-capillary phenomenon, MEMS component design has not taken advantage of this knowledge to address two-phase flow blockage and liquid filling in channels and channel junctions. The objective of this proposed research is to investigate how channel geometry and material selection affect bubble formation, stability, and breakup. Surface tension modifying techniques, such as electro-wetting and hydrophobic/hydrophilic coatings, will be also considered. Ultimately, optimal designs and practical recommendations will result in simple, cost-effective, reliable MEMS devices.

Fig 2: KOH anisotropic etchIn phase one, an extensive literature survey is done to catalog different methods of etching. Manufacturing techniques such as DRIE (Deep Reactive Ion Etching), wet etching, conventional machining, and others produce different etching patterns, have depth limitations, require certain materials, and have significantly different production costs. For example, DRIE creates deep (> 500 um) rectangular channels (Fig. 1), while wet etching is less easily controlled and forms shallow trapezoidal or semicircular grooves (Fig. 2). However, DRIE requires a large up-front investment (~$1M) and requires expensive chemicals for production. In contrast, the cost of wet etching is up to 2 orders of magnitude less expensive than DRIE. Other techniques such as micromachining are even more economical but produce different cross-sections than described above. Complimenting the literature research, phase two considers etching requirements and the structure of MEMS components. Particular components may require particular cross-sections and aspect ratios for functionality and performance. Furthermore, this will establish particular channel geometries of interest.

Side droplet 
Side Droplet; This surface evolver file
is modeling the two-phase fluid
interface of a side droplet in a
laterally compressed tube. The
cross-sectional geometry of the
compressed tube consists of flat
plates with circular end caps.
In addition to geometry, the contact angle of the fluid can be adjusted to change stability properties. This can be done using four different methods: material selection, coatings, thermo-capillary phenomena, and electro-wetting. For example, a Teflon-coated channel leading from a water reservoir will require a large backpressure to fill; while a hydrophilic one will fill voluntarily. In addition, active control of the interface can be achieved using electro-wetting. An electrical potential across the bubble will result in an effective quadratic decrease of the solid-liquid surface tension. While this relationship (Young-Lippman equation) is phenomenological, other effects can be incorporated using variational techniques on Maxwell equations.

 Annulus
Annulus; Liquid in an air-filled lung
passage is of interest in various
health-related fields, one in particular
is how liquid forms in non-circular
lung capillaries. This geometry is also
useful in understanding how gas can
block liquid in small fuel lines which
are subject to non-uniformities, such as
manufacturing tolerances and pinching
After the survey, Phase IV will use Surface Evolver to calculate the gas-liquid interface and determine its static stability for a variety of geometries, contact angles, surface tension modifying techniques, and bubble volumes. Surface Evolver, a NSF-funded software package, computes minimal surfaces that are formed by surface tension, gravity, and other energies and that are subject to various constraints. Critical contact angle and capillary instability phenomena in complex geometries . such as satellite propellant management devices, arbitrary packed sphere beds, and channel junctions . are computed with ease. Practical modifications to existing topologies will be tested.

In Phase V, the dynamic progression of the bubble is found using an existing CFD code with a level-set modification. The dynamical results can be compared to a static solution found in Surface Evolver to check for numerical convergence. Ultimately, this will give further insight into bubble breakup and instability. Selected results will be tested experimentally in Phase VI. Pressure can be applied externally to move a series of liquid slugs in the microchannel. If a glass cover plate is used, techniques such as pressure sensitive paints or microPIV will be used to study transient behavior. Using these results, the accuracy of CFD will be assessed.

Finally, experimental and computational results will be collected and contrasted. Designs will be examined for both two-phase flow instability and manufacturability. Therefore, a performance metric for each design will be established:

  1. Modes of interface stability
  2. Pressure or electro-wetting power required for gas/liquid slug removal
  3. Estimated costs, time, and issues for manufacturing and
  4. Practical channel/junction applications

While microfluidics is not branded as an aerospace topic, the aerospace industry and NASA have laid the foundation of low Bond number (surface tension dominate) fluid mechanics.

Originality of Proposal

While microfluidics is not branded as an aerospace topic, the aerospace industry and NASA have laid the foundation of low Bond number (surface tension dominate) fluid mechanics. Prof. Collicott's research group has mainly focused on fluid behavior in satellite fuel tanks and control using vane structures. He has shown Surface Evolver to be highly versatile with complex geometries and this has lead to diverse work in two-phase stability, such as pulmonary branches and sphere-bed layers. While building upon the expertise of his research group, this proposal is unique due to its focus on microdevices and electro-capillary phenomena.

Video about Electrokinetic Instability in a Cross Shaped Microchannel

Instability of flow in a microfluidic channel at low Reynolds number due to an applied electric field and a conductivity gradient.

.
 

Check out these cool BOINC videos!

Einstein@home - LIGO Gravitational Wave ObservatoryEinstein@home - LIGO Gravitational Wave Observatory

 

CERN - The LHC in 3 minutesCERN - The LHC in 3 minutes

 

Einstein@home - Gravity is Making WavesEinstein@home - Gravity is Making Waves

 

Check out this science project!

QMC@home

Quantum Monte Carlo At Home (QMC@HOME) is a project designed to further develop the Quantum Monte Carlo method for general use in Quantum Chemistry. With the help of volunteers all over the world we want to aquire the computing power that is needed to test and further develop the opportunities of the promising new approach of Quantum Monte Carlo. 

QMC@home project URL; http://qah.uni-muenster.de/
Read more...

Poll Poll 1

Is BOINC manager "User friendly"?
 

Poll Poll 2

How many BOINC projects are you running?
 

Poll Poll 3

Have you ever used an Account Manager?