We are harnessing the power of microfluidics to probe the interplay between fluid dynamics and intermolecular forces that governs clogging behavior of pores. Clogging is applicable in many applications, especially liquid filtration. Many filters are comprised of membranes that separate suspended particulate matter from liquid, cleaning the liquid.
A large collection of pores, often intersecting, is one common type of membrane. The suspended matter often, but not always, plugs a channel due to size exclusion. Suspended matter that is smaller than the pore will not plug the pore, but may adhere to the pore surface. Clogging, a successive accumulation of particulate matter in the pore that impedes flow (Fig 1), also contributes to the efficiency of the overall filter.
Using soft lithography we can construct any two dimensional shape in (poly)dimethyl-siloxane. Using this versatility, we can model membranes features such as pore size distribution, tortuosity and porosity. Using microspheres, we induce clogging in wide variety of pore geometries to understand how these features influence clogging individually and together.