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Acoustic Streaming in a

Microchannel Cross Section

Movement of Micro Particles due to Viscous Drag
and Acoustic Radiation Forces


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Background and Motivation
• Recent advances in the fabrication of microfluidic systems require handling of live
cells and other micro particles as well as mixing. All this can, for example, be
achieved using acoustic radiation forces and the viscous drag from the streaming
• Streaming: Due to the nonlinear terms in the Navier-Stokes equations, harmonic
perturbation of the flow will lead to a net time-averaged flow called acoustic
streaming. Acoustic streaming is a second order (nonlinear) acoustic effect. The
effect can be simulated in two ways: either by direct simulation solving the
nonlinear Navier-Stokes equations, or as shown here by separation of time scales.
• Radiation Force: Due to nonlinear terms in the governing equations momentum can
be transferred from an acoustic field to particles. This results in a net force acting
on the particles – the acoustic radiation force.
• The trajectory of particles in devices will be governed by the balance between the
viscous drag force (from the streaming flow) and the acoustic radiation force. This
model shows how to include both using COMSOL Multiphysics.
Background and Motivation
• This model first solves the 1st order acoustic field using the Thermoviscous Acoustics,
Frequency Domain interface. This solves the full thermoviscous acoustic problem and
properly resolves the acoustic boundary layer. The streaming flow is driven in this layer.
• Secondly, the 2nd order time-averaged net flow is solved. This is achieved by adding the
necessary source terms (they stem from the first order fields) to the Laminar Flow
• Finally, the path of polystyrene micro particles in the microchannel cross section is
modeled using the particle Tracing for Fluid Flow interface. The radiation force is added
as an analytical expression based on the latest research.
• The model presented here is based on:
P. B. Muller, R. Barnkob, M. J. Herring Jensen, and H. Bruus, “A numerical study of microparticle
acoustophoresis driven by acoustic radiation forces and streaming-induced drag forces,” Lab. Chip.,
12, 4617–4627 (2012).
• Radiation force expression including both thermal and viscous effects:
J. T. Karlsen and H. Bruus, “Forces acting on a small particle in an acoustical field in a thermoviscous
fluid,” Phys. Rev. E 92, 043010 (2015).
• The 1st order acoustic fields (p1,u1,T1) are solved using the Thermoviscous
Acoustics, Frequency Domain interface of the Acoustics Module.
• The streaming flow (time averaged) (<p2>,<u2>) is solved using the Laminar
Flow physics interface of the CFD Module by adding the appropriate time-
averaged 1st order sources: a mass source and a volume force.
• The sources are not actual physical sources but part of solving the full non-
linear equations. They appear due to the solution technique.
• The acoustic radiation force is added by defining the analytical expression.
This expression is valid in the Rayleigh limit (small particles compared to the
wavelength). For details see equations (5), (64), and (70) in J. T. Karlsen and
H. Bruus, “Forces acting on a small particle in an acoustical field in a
thermoviscous fluid,” Phys. Rev. E 92, 043010 (2015).
• A 2D cross section of a microchannel:
harmonic actuation: 5 nm exp(i)

H = 100 µm

W = 150 µm
Physics Setup

Actuation of top/bottom walls.

Volume force from time averaged 1st
order fields.

Mass source from time averaged 1st

order fields. Manually added as a
weak contribution.

Constraining pressure in the flow:

average pressure equals zero.
Physics Setup
Particle Tracing for Fluid Flow: Use the
Drag Force and a Force feature.

Material parameters are define under


Analytical expressions defining the source terms,

scattering parameters and radiation force are
defined here.
Some details
Set the discretization to P3+P2 for both
physics (enable view discretization from the
view menu).

Turn off all stabilization for the Laminar Flow

interface (enable view stabilization from the
view menu)

Mesh using boundary layers defined in terms

of the viscous boundary layer thickness
dvisc0 defined under parameters
Acoustic Fields

Pressure: p1 f0 = 5 MHz

Density: 1
Acoustic Fields

Velocity (RMS) and field u1 Thermal boundary layer

Temperature: T1

f0 = 5 MHz

Viscous boundary layer

Streaming Field
Streaming velocity magnitude and velocity field <u2>
Particle Trajectories (animation)
Concluding Remarks
• The streaming flow (time averaged) (<p2>,<u2>) in a microchannel cross
section is solved using the Thermoviscous Acoustics and the Laminar Flow
physics interface (of the Acoustics and the CFD modules).
• Note that the bulk viscosity term has been disregarded in the streaming
flow calculation. The effect of this term is very small in this application.
• The solution is achieved using second order perturbation theory and time-
averaging the second order equations manually.
• The movement of micro particles in the channel due to the streaming flow
(drag force) and radiation forces is modeled using the Particle Tracing for
Fluid Flow interface.
• The nature and the particle movement is governed by the balance between
drag and radiation forces. This depends on the particle size a and the
material parameters of the fluid and particles.