Turbulence is commonly viewed as a type of macroflow, where the Reynolds number (Re) has to be sufficiently high. In microfluidics, when Re is below or on the order of 1 and fast mixing is required, so far only chaotic flow has been reported to enhance mixing based on previous publications since turbulence is believed not to be possible to generate in such a low Re microflow. There is even a lack of velocimeter that can measure turbulence in microchannels. In this work, we report a direct observation of the existence of turbulence in microfluidics with Re on the order of 1 in a pressure driven flow under electrokinetic forcing using a novel velocimeter having ultrahigh spatiotemporal resolution. The work could provide a new method to control flow and transport phenomena in lab-on-a-chip and a new perspective on turbulence.
Published in Lab on a Chip, Volume 14, Issue 8, 2014, pages 1452-1458.
© Lab on a Chip 2014, Royal Society of Chemistry
Wang, G. R., Yang, F., & Zhao, W. (2014). There can be turbulence in microfluidics at low Reynolds number. Lab on a Chip, 14(8), 1452-1458.