We investigate the settling of spherical particles through a pinching gap created by a cylindrical obstacle and a vertical wall. These macroscopic experiments capture the essence of pinched-flow-fractionation in microfluidics and highlight its deterministic nature. In the absence of pinching, we observe asymmetric trajectories consistent with a hard-core model of particle-obstacle repulsion that leads to separative lateral displacement. Then, we show that pinching promotes the onset of these short-range repulsion forces, amplifying the relative separation in the outgoing trajectory of different-size particles. Inertia effects, however, tend to reduce such relative separation and lead to a more complex behavior.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)