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Capillaries will measure diffusion and help in more efficient medical treatment
Date:2/12/2014

eneration of little vortices.

When a small amount of an analyte is injected into a stream of a carrier liquid flowing in the capillary, it spreads out quickly into a long streak. The researchers from the IPC PAS looked at the analyte concentration in the carrier liquid at the outlet from the capillary. In line with the expectations, the highest concentration was in the centre of the capillary, while the lowest one was found at the walls. The plot of the distribution of the analyte concentration along the capillary diameter was bell-shaped, and so it had the shape of the famous Gauss curve.

"In spite of a high flow rate and the presence of vortices, we were able to relate the variations in the distribution of the analyte concentration in the cross-section at the end of the capillary i.e., simply speaking, the width of the Gauss bell with the flow rate, the viscosity of the carrier liquid, the capillary curvature, and the diffusion coefficient of the analyte. The first three factors are known, which means that in practice it's enough to measure the width of the 'bell' in order to determine the diffusion coefficient", explains Anna Lewandrowska, a doctoral student at the IPC PAS.

"Interestingly, the results of our measurements were inconsistent with current theoretical models, constructed on the basis of approximated solutions of the famous Navier-Stokes equations", comments Prof. Robert Holyst (IPC PAS). "These equations, let us remind, describe the movement of fluids, and at present their solutions are known for the simplest flows only. So, we had to determine experimentally our own formula describing our measurement system and the phenomena occurring therein".

In earlier versions of the apparatus the measurements were carried out at low flow rates, only 0.05 millilitre per minute. The analysis of a single analyte required 40 minutes, yielding for some macromolecules results with errors reaching up to 30%. Now the flow speed is
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Contact: Robert Holyst
rholyst@ichf.edu.pl
Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert  

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