Devising Greener Chemistry

Close-up view of the instabilities in the fluid film as the Vortex Fluidic Device rotates. The tube is oriented at 45 degrees relative to vertical..

Not all microfluidic devices use tiny channels to pump and mix fluids. Some, like the Vortex Fluidic Device (VFD), conduct their microfluidic mixing in thin films of fluid. The VFD is essentially a tube spinning at several thousand RPM that can be tilted to various angles. Coriolis forces, shear, and Faraday instabilities in the thin fluid film create a complex microfluidic flow field that’s excellent for mixing, crystallization, and processing of injected chemicals. One rather notorious application of this device was unboiling an egg, a feat for which the researchers won an Ig Nobel Prize. But other, more practical applications abound, including a waste-free method for coating particles. (Image and research credit: T. Alharbi et al.; video credit: Flinders University; via Cosmos; submitted by Marc A.)

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