Microfluidics and Nanofluidics

Vortex shedding from confined micropin arrays

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The hydrodynamics in microcavities populated with cylindrical micropins was investigated using dynamic pressure measurements and fluid pathline visualization. Pressure signals were Fourier-analyzed to extract the flow fluctuation frequencies, which were in the kHz range for the tested flow Reynolds numbers (Re) of up to 435. Three different sets of flow dependent characteristic frequencies were identified, the first due to vortex shedding, the second due to lateral flow oscillation and the third due to a transition between these two flow regimes. These frequencies were measured at different locations along the chip (e.g. inlet, middle and outlet). It is established that vortex shedding initiates at the outlet and then travels upstream with increase in Re. The pathline visualization technique provided direct optical access to the flow field without any intermediate post-processing step and could be used to interpret the frequencies determined through pressure measurements. Microcavities with different micropin height-to-diameter aspect ratios and pitch-to-diameter ratios were tested. The tests confirmed an increase in the Strouhal number (associated with the vortex shedding) with increased confinement (decrease in the aspect ratio or the pitch), in agreement with macroscale measurements. The compact nature of the microscale geometry tested, and the measurement technique demonstrated, readily enabled us to investigate the flow past 4,420 pins with various degrees of confinements; this makes the measurements performed and the techniques developed here an important tool for investigating large arrays of similar objects in a flow field. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.