Most microfluidic chips consist of several microchannels inside. In order to design microfluidic chips efficiently, it is important to predict the flow passage and to understand the flow characteristics on the chip. In this study, the flow structure inside microchannels has been investigated using a micro-PIV system. We focused on the flow resistance with respect to the inlet configuration of microchannels. The microchannels made of poly-dimethyl-siloxane (PDMS) material were fabricated by a micro-molding technique using SU-8 (photoresist) master. The width (w) and depth of the microchannels were fixed as 100 μm and 58 μm, respectively. Six different inlet configurations with curvature radii in the ranges from r = 0.2w to 1.5w were tested in this study. As a result, with increasing the curvature radius of the inlet corner, the streamwise mean velocity develops slowly in the entrance region, but the fully developed velocity at further downstream is increased. When the curvature radius is larger than r = 0.6w, the reduction rate of flow resistance is not so significant. For the microchannels with r = 0.6w, 0.8w and 1.0w the downstream mean velocity at channel center has nearly the same value of about 276 mm/sec, 10.5% larger than that of r = 0.2w. The simple rounding of microchannel inlet corner reduces flow resistance effectively by smoothing the incoming flow. The length of entrance region is much smaller than that of macro-scale channel.

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