The effect of microchannel height on the acoustophoretic motion of sub-micron particles

Tsz Wai Lai, Thilhara Tennakoon, Ka Chung Chan, Chun Ho Liu, Christopher Yu Hang Chao, Sau Chung Fu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Acoustophoresis is an effective technique for particle manipulation. Acoustic radiation force scales with particle volume, enabling size separation. Yet, isolating sub-micron particles remains a challenge due to the acoustic streaming effect (ASE). While some studies confirmed the focusing ability of ASE, others reported continuous stirring effects. To investigate the parameters that influence ASE-induced particle motion in a microchannel, this study examined the effect of microchannel height and particle size. We employed standing surface acoustic wave (SSAW) to manipulate polystyrene particles suspended in the water-filled microchannel. The results show that ASE can direct particles as small as 0.31 µm in diameter to the centre of the streaming vortices, and increasing the channel height enhances the focusing effect. Smaller particles circulate in the streaming vortices continuously, with no movement towards the centres. We also discovered that when the channel height is at least 0.75 the fluid wavelength, particles transitioning from acoustic radiation-dominated to ASE-dominated share the same equilibrium position, which differs from the pressure nodes and the vortices’ centres. The spatial distance between particles in different categories can lead to particle separation. Therefore, ASE is a potential alternative mechanism for sub-micron particle sorting when the channel height is accurately adjusted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107126
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • Acoustic streaming
  • Acoustophoresis
  • Microfluidics
  • Particle concentration
  • Sub-micron particle separation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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