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  1. Two mean-field models for polyelectrolytes in simultaneous electric field and pressure-driven flow field were developed and compared. The models predict migration perpendicular to the anti-parallel or parallel fields, where the migration is caused by electrohydrodynamic interactions calculated using either a short- or long-range approximation. Inputs for the mean-field models were determined from Brownian dynamics simulations in a simple shear flow. Both models qualitatively reproduce experimental observations of DNA focusing as reported in previous publications. Specifically, it is observed that combination of the shear and electric fields leads to polyelectrolyte motion in the direction transverse to the flow and electric field direction, which in turn leads to concentration of the polyelectrolyte in the centre of a microfluidic channel. Furthermore, both models predict that there is an optimal strength of electric field that leads to the narrowest distribution profile of the polyelectrolyte in the centre of the channel. The analysis suggests that this is due to dispersion induced by the electrohydrodynamic interactions. However, quantitative disagreement between the model predictions and the experimental data indicates that further progress in the model development is needed.
  2. We report separation of genomic DNA (48 kbp) from bovine serum albumin (BSA) by the electro-hydrodynamic coupling between a pressure-driven flow and a parallel electric field. Electro-hydrodynamic extraction exploits this coupling to trap DNA molecules at the entrance of a microfluidic contraction channel, while allowing proteins and salts to be flushed from the device. Samples (10 μL) containing λ-DNA (1 ng) and BSA (0.3 mg) were injected directly into the device and convected to the contraction channel entrance by a flowing buffer solution. The DNA remains trapped in this region essentially indefinitely, while proteins and salts are eluted. The effectiveness of the concept has been assessed by fluorescence measurements of DNA and BSA concentrations. Electro-hydrodynamic extraction in a single-stage device was found to enhance the concentration of DNA 40-fold, while reducing the BSA concentration by four orders of magnitude. The relative concentrations of DNA to BSA at the contraction channel entrance can be as large as 1.5 : 1, corresponding to an A260/280 ratio of 1.9. The maximum yield of DNA from a salt-free solution is 50%, while salted (150 mM) solutions have a lower yield (38%).
  3. Rigid fibers suspended in a viscous, Newtonian fluid at high concentrations can be aligned in the direction perpendicular to the flow-gradient plane (vorticity direction) by applying an oscillatory shear flow. A simple model, which considers only excluded volume and self-mobilities, can accurately predict the orientation distributions measured in experiments by Franceschini et al. [“Transverse alignment of fibers in a periodically sheared suspension: An absorbing phase transition with a slowly varying control parameter,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 250603 (2011)10.1103/PhysRevLett.107.250603]. Furthermore, simulations reveal that the alignment of the fibers in the vorticity direction depends strongly on the presence of the bounding walls.