Due to the increased confinement, high shear rates, and low Reynolds Numbers inherent to microfluidic flows, the formation of elastic instabiltiies can be uniquely studied using microchannels.  In fact, flow regimes that are difficult to reach in macroscale fluidic channels are often much easier to see in microfluidic channels.

In our lab, we are examining a simple geometry, a confined cylinder, to explore elastic and inertio-elastic instabilities of flow of dilute polymer solutions. We have identified new classes of instbaility that occur under extreme confinement at large Deborah numbers and Moderate Mach numbers. We beleive these instabilities have signifigant effects on flow in porous media and enhanced oil recovery

  1. Shi, X. and G. F. Christopher "Role of Geometry and Inertia on Moderate Mach Number Instabilities around Confined Cylinders," In Preperation
  2. Kenney, S. et al. "Large Deborah Number Flows Around Confined Cylinders," Rheologica Acta, 2013. 52(5): p. 485-497