As a river flows around rocks and logs, still spaces form in the fluid flow. Over at TACC, Aaron Dubrow writes that researchers are exploring the phase space of these fluid deformations using supercomputers. Through a better understanding of microfluidics, clinicians may someday be able to separate white blood cells from other cells in a blood sample, increase mixing in industrial applications, and more quickly perform lab-on-a-chip-type operations, like DNA sequencing and chemical detection.
The equations used to determine the fluid flows are fairly straightforward, but the number of configurations needed to solve the problem required them to use the Ranger supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). Ranger, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), served the national open science community for five years and was replaced by Stampede (the sixth most powerful supercomputer in the world) in January 2013. Using several thousand processors concurrently, the researchers ran more than a 1,000 different problems, each representing a combination of different speeds, thicknesses, heights or offsets.
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