“Student Lab”-on-a-Chip: Integrating low-cost microfluidics into undergraduate teaching labs to study multiphase flow phenomena in small vessels


  • Edmond W.K. Young University of Toronto
  • Craig A. Simmons University of Toronto


We describe a simple, low-cost laboratory session to demonstrate the Fahraeus-Lindqvist effect, a microphase flow phenomenon that occurs in small blood vessels and alters the effective rheological properties of blood. The experiments are performed by flowing cells through microchannels fabricated by soft lithography and characterization of cell density, flow rate, and effective viscosity as functions of the microchannel hydraulic diameter. The experiments demonstrate the Fahraeus-Lindqvist phenomenon effectively and provide students with hands-on experience with microfluidics. Students agreed that the laboratory exercise reinforced lecture material. They also provided helpful suggestions to enhance laboratory logistics.

Author Biographies

Edmond W.K. Young, University of Toronto

Edmond W.K. Young received his Ph.D. at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering atthe University of Toronto, and is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His main research interests are in designing and integrating microfluidic tools for studying endothelial cell biology. During his Ph.D. studies, he was a teaching assistant for a biomechanics course taught by Dr. Simmons where he developed the reported laboratory session to demonstrate the Fahraeus-Lindqvist effect using microfluidics.

Craig A. Simmons, University of Toronto

Craig A. Simmons is an assistant professor and the Canada Research Chair in Mechanobiology at the University of Toronto in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and the Faculty of Dentistry. His research group applies principles of biomedical engineering, cell and molecular biology, and tissue engineering to study how mechanical forces regulate tissue regeneration and pathology. Dr. Simmons teaches a senior undergraduate course in biomechanics and is the co-author of Introductory Biomechanics: From Cells to Organisms, a textbook for engineering students at the upper undergraduate and graduate levels.