Display options
Share it on

Sensors (Basel). 2016 Aug 05;16(8). doi: 10.3390/s16081238.

Passive Mixing Capabilities of Micro- and Nanofibres When Used in Microfluidic Systems.

Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)

Lauren Matlock-Colangelo, Nicholas W Colangelo, Christoph Fenzl, Margaret W Frey, Antje J Baeumner


  1. Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA. [email protected].
  2. Department of Radiology, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ 07103, USA. [email protected].
  3. Institute for Analytical Chemistry, Chemo- and Biosensors, University of Regensburg, Regensburg 93040, Germany. [email protected].
  4. Department of Fibre Science and Apparel Design, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA. [email protected].
  5. Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA. [email protected].
  6. Institute for Analytical Chemistry, Chemo- and Biosensors, University of Regensburg, Regensburg 93040, Germany. [email protected].

PMID: 27527184 PMCID: PMC5017403 DOI: 10.3390/s16081238


Nanofibres are increasingly being used in the field of bioanalytics due to their large surface-area-to-volume ratios and easy-to-functionalize surfaces. To date, nanofibres have been studied as effective filters, concentrators, and immobilization matrices within microfluidic devices. In addition, they are frequently used as optical and electrochemical transduction materials. In this work, we demonstrate that electrospun nanofibre mats cause appreciable passive mixing and therefore provide dual functionality when incorporated within microfluidic systems. Specifically, electrospun nanofibre mats were integrated into Y-shaped poly(methyl methacrylate) microchannels and the degree of mixing was quantified using fluorescence microscopy and ImageJ analysis. The degree of mixing afforded in relationship to fibre diameter, mat height, and mat length was studied. We observed that the most mixing was caused by small diameter PVA nanofibres (450-550 nm in diameter), producing up to 71% mixing at the microchannel outlet, compared to up to 51% with polystyrene microfibres (0.8-2.7 μm in diameter) and 29% mixing in control channels containing no fibres. The mixing afforded by the PVA nanofibres is caused by significant inhomogeneity in pore size and distribution leading to percolation. As expected, within all the studies, fluid mixing increased with fibre mat height, which corresponds to the vertical space of the microchannel occupied by the fibre mats. Doubling the height of the fibre mat led to an average increase in mixing of 14% for the PVA nanofibres and 8% for the PS microfibres. Overall, mixing was independent of the length of the fibre mat used (3-10 mm), suggesting that most mixing occurs as fluid enters and exits the fibre mat. The mixing effects observed within the fibre mats were comparable to or better than many passive mixers reported in literature. Since the nanofibre mats can be further functionalized to couple analyte concentration, immobilization, and detection with enhanced fluid mixing, they are a promising nanomaterial providing dual-functionality within lab-on-a-chip devices.

Keywords: biosensors; fluid mixing; microfluidics; nanofibres


  1. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2015 May 27;7(20):10872-7 - PubMed
  2. Macromol Rapid Commun. 2013 Jul 25;34(14):1134-9 - PubMed
  3. Biosens Bioelectron. 2010 Dec 15;26(4):1612-7 - PubMed
  4. Mater Sci Eng C Mater Biol Appl. 2015 Mar;48:673-8 - PubMed
  5. Sci Technol Adv Mater. 2012 Aug 8;13(4):043002 - PubMed
  6. Anal Chem. 2003 Oct 15;75(20):5381-6 - PubMed
  7. Lab Chip. 2008 Jan;8(1):117-24 - PubMed
  8. Carbohydr Polym. 2015 Mar 6;117:941-9 - PubMed
  9. Lab Chip. 2014 Jul 7;14(13):2303-8 - PubMed
  10. Anal Chem. 2002 Jan 1;74(1):45-51 - PubMed
  11. Mater Sci Eng C Mater Biol Appl. 2015 Jan;46:166-76 - PubMed
  12. Lab Chip. 2012 Aug 7;12(15):2612-20 - PubMed
  13. Int J Pharm. 2016 Aug 20;510(1):48-56 - PubMed
  14. J Am Chem Soc. 2015 Nov 4;137(43):13836-43 - PubMed
  15. J Control Release. 2014 Jul 10;185:12-21 - PubMed
  16. Biosens Bioelectron. 2016 Apr 15;78:513-23 - PubMed
  17. Lab Chip. 2012 May 7;12(9):1696-701 - PubMed
  18. Biosensors (Basel). 2012 Oct 08;2(4):388-95 - PubMed
  19. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2016 Feb;408(5):1327-34 - PubMed
  20. Biomaterials. 2012 Jan;33(3):771-9 - PubMed
  21. Chem Commun (Camb). 2015 Feb 11;51(12):2225-34 - PubMed
  22. BMJ. 1995 Jan 21;310(6973):170 - PubMed
  23. Nanomedicine. 2016 Oct;12 (7):2181-2200 - PubMed
  24. Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2011 Jun 15;85(1):32-9 - PubMed
  25. Biosens Bioelectron. 2015 Apr 15;66:308-15 - PubMed
  26. Chem Soc Rev. 2012 Jul 7;41(13):4708-35 - PubMed
  27. Nano Lett. 2006 May;6(5):1042-6 - PubMed
  28. Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2016 Dec 15;107:206-212 - PubMed

Publication Types