Microfluidic diffusion viscometer for rapid analysis of complex solutions

Published on March 4th, 2016

Authors: Paulo Arosio, Kevin Hu, Francesco A. Aprile, Thomas Muller, Tuomas P. J. Knowles.
Anal. Chem., 2016. 88 (7), 488-3493. DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.5b02930


The viscosity of complex solutions is a physical property of central relevance for a large number of applications in material, biological, and biotechnological sciences. Here they demonstrate a microfluidic technology to measure the viscosity of solutions by following the advection and diffusion of tracer particles under steady-state flow. They validate the method with standard water-glycerol mixtures, and then we apply this microfluidic diffusion viscometer to measure the viscosity of protein solutions at high concentrations as well as of a crude cell lysate.

The approach exhibits a series of attractive features, including analysis time on the order of seconds and the consumption of a few μL of sample, as well as the possibility to readily integrate the microfluidic viscometer in other instrument platforms or modular microfluidic devices. These characteristics make microfluidic diffusion viscometry an attractive approach in automated processes in biotechnology and health-care sciences where fast measurements with limited amount of sample consumption are required.

Arosio et al. demonstrate the utility of a diffusion viscometer, showing that by including tracer particles and tracking mass transport, the viscosity of complex solutions can be determined using only low quantities of sample material, with a short analysis time and can be integrated into other microfluidic elements on a chip.

Instrument: Fluidity One
Therapeutic area: Basic research

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