Inertial and viscoelastic forces on rigid colloids in microfluidic channels

Michael P. Howard, Athanassios Z. Panagiotopoulos, Arash Nikoubashman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


We perform hybrid molecular dynamics simulations to study the flow behavior of rigid colloids dispersed in a dilute polymer solution. The underlying Newtonian solvent and the ensuing hydrodynamic interactions are incorporated through multiparticle collision dynamics, while the constituent polymers are modeled as bead-spring chains, maintaining a description consistent with the colloidal nature of our system. We study the cross-stream migration of the solute particles in slit-like channels for various polymer lengths and colloid sizes and find a distinct focusing onto the channel center under specific solvent and flow conditions. To better understand this phenomenon, we systematically measure the effective forces exerted on the colloids. We find that the migration originates from a competition between viscoelastic forces from the polymer solution and hydrodynamically induced inertial forces. Our simulations reveal a significantly stronger fluctuation of the lateral colloid position than expected from thermal motion alone, which originates from the complex interplay between the colloid and polymer chains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number224908
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number22
StatePublished - Jun 14 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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