Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), United States of America
In this work, we present an explanatory visualization of a high-fidelity multiphysics simulation of circulating tumor cell (CTC) capture in a microfluidic device. Detecting rare CTCs in the bloodstream is challenging but important for both clinical diagnostics and fundamental research. Microfluidics showed great promise in earlier CTC detection. To better understand the transport physics of CTCs in microfluidic devices, a high-performance computational model was used to investigate the role of micropost sizes and intercellular collisions on CTC transport and adhesion within the device. The visualization illustrates that, overall, CTCs display transient rolling behavior in areas of high shear on microposts and firm adhesion in low-shear areas. The trajectories of CTCs can be seen closely following fluid streamlines at low RBC concentrations but deviating from streamlines at high RBC concentrations due to the intercellular collisions. These behaviors are difficult or even impossible to observe without the use of visualization.