We exploited the viscoelasticity of biocompatible dilute polymeric solutions, mely, dilute poly(ethylene oxide) solutions, to significantly enhance mixing in microfluidic devices at a very small Reynolds number, i.e., Re谮023, but large Peclet and elasticity numbers. With an abrupt contraction microgeometry (8:1 contraction ratio), two different dilute poly(ethylene oxide) solutions were successfully mixed with a short flow length at a relatively fast mixing time of <10 峮 Microparticle image velocimetry was employed in our investigations to characterize the flow fields. The increase in velocity fluctuation with an increase in flow rate and Deborah number indicates the increase in viscoelastic flow instability.Mixing efficiency was characterized by fluorescent concentration measurements. Our results showed that enhanced mixing can be achieved through viscoelastic flow instability under situations where molecular-diffusion and inertia effects are negligible. This approach bypasses the lamir flow limitation, usually associated with a low Reynolds number, which is not conducive to mixing.
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