Concentration and separation of particles and biological specimens are fundamental functions of micro/nanofluidic systems. Acoustic streaming is an effective and biocompatible way to create rapid microscale fluid motion and induce particle capture, though the >100 MHz frequencies required to directly generate acoustic body forces on the microscale have traditionally been difficult to generate and localize in a way that is amenable to efficient generation of streaming. Moreover, acoustic, hydrodynamic, and electrical forces as typically applied have difficulty manipulating specimens in the submicrometer regime. In this work, we introduce highly focused traveling surface acoustic waves (SAW) at high frequencies between 193 and 636 MHz for efficient and highly localized production of acoustic streaming vortices on microfluidic length scales. Concentration occurs via a novel mechanism, whereby the combined acoustic radiation and streaming field results in size-selective aggregation in fluid streamlines in the vicinity of a high-amplitude acoustic beam, as opposed to previous acoustic radiation induced particle concentration where objects typically migrate toward minimum pressure locations. Though the acoustic streaming is induced by a traveling wave, we are able to manipulate particles an order of magnitude smaller than possible using the traveling wave force alone. We experimentally and theoretically examine the range of particle sizes that can be captured in fluid streamlines using this technique, with rapid particle concentration demonstrated down to 300 nm diameters. We also demonstrate that locations of trapping and concentration are size-dependent, which is attributed to the combined effects of the acoustic streaming and acoustic forces.
Collins, David J., Zhichao Ma, Ye Ai