The phenomenon of capillary imbibition through porous media is important both due to its applications in several disciplines as well as the involved fundamental flow physics in micro-nanoscales. In the present study, where a simple paper strip plays the role of a porous medium, we observe an extremely interesting and non-intuitive wicking or imbibition dynamics, through which we can separate water and dye particles by allowing the paper strip to come in contact with a dye solution. This result is extremely significant in the context of understanding paper-based microfluidics, and the manner in which the fundamental understanding of the capillary imbibition phenomenon in a porous medium can be used to devise a paper-based microfluidic separator.

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