This review describes the formation of microvortices in microfluidic systems, and discusses our experimental measurements that illustrate the velocity profiles inside such microvortices. Because of the micrometer dimensions of these vortices and the presence of high rotational velocities, we have observed a number of unique phenomena. One example is the dynamic formation of ring patterns of particles within the microvortex. The mechanism by which these patterns form relies on a balance between the centrifugal and displacement forces experienced by the re-circulating particles with a lift force exerted on the particles near the solid boundary of the microcavity. We also demonstrate the ability to orient and rotate precisely micro and nanometer -sized particles, individual DNA molecules, and single cells. Because of the high linear velocity (m/s) of fluid flow in constricted microchannels and to the small radii (< 10μm) of the microvortices, we have measured the presence of ultrahigh radial accelerations (v2/r) in such microvortices, which can reach 107 m/s2 or 106 times the gravitational acceleration (g).

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