Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Victor M. Bright

Second Advisor

James C. Booth

Third Advisor

Yifu Ding

Fourth Advisor

Xiaobo Yin

Fifth Advisor

Dimitra Psychogiou


This dissertation concerns the development of unique microfluidic microwave devices and associated microwave calibrations to quantitatively extract the broadband permittivity and permeability of fluids between 100 kHz and 110 GHz. The devices presented here consist of SU-8- and PDMS-based microfluidic channels integrated lithographically with coplanar waveguides (CPWs), measured via an external vector network analyzer (VNA). By applying our hybrid set of microwave calibrations to the raw data we extract distributed circuit parameters, representative of the electromagnetic response of the microfluidic channel. We then correlate these parameters to the permittivity and permeability of the fluid within the channels. We are primarily focused on developing devices, calibrations, and analyses to characterize various chemical and biological systems. The small fluid volumes and overall scale of our devices lends the technique to point-of-care blood and cell analysis, as well as to the analysis of high-value chemicals. Broadband microwave microfluidics is sensitive to three primary categories of phenomena: Ionic, dipolar, and magnetic resonances. All three can occur in complex fluids such as blood, proteins and particle suspensions. In order to make quantitative measurements, we need to be able to model and separate all three types of responses.

Here we first measure saline solutions (NaCl and water) as an ideal system to better understanding both the ionic and dipolar response. Specifically, we are targeting the electrical double-layer (EDL) response, an ionic effect, which dominates over the intrinsic fluid response at lower frequencies. We have found that the EDL response for saline obeys a strict Debye-type relaxation model, the frequency response of which is dependent solely on the conductivity of the solution. To develop a better understanding of the magnetic response, we first measure magnetic nanoparticles; showing it is possible to detect the magnetic resonances of magnetic nanoparticle in a fluid environment using the broad-band approach, and that the response matches cavity-based measurements. In addition, we demonstrate the complicated intermixing that occurs between magnetic and electrical responses in CPW-type measurements through both numerical modeling, and empirical measurements of impeded embedded permalloy devices.