Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Jeffrey Allen


A non-intrusive interferometric measurement technique has been successfully developed to measure fluid compressibility in both gas and liquid phases via refractive index (RI) changes. The technique, consisting of an unfocused laser beam impinging a glass channel, can be used to separate and quantify cell deflection, fluid flow rates, and pressure variations in microchannels. Currently in fields such as microfluidics, pressure and flow rate measurement devices are orders of magnitude larger than the channel cross-sections making direct pressure and fluid flow rate measurements impossible. Due to the non-intrusive nature of this technique, such measurements are now possible, opening the door for a myriad of new scientific research and experimentation.

This technique, adapted from the concept of Micro Interferometric Backscatter Detection (MIBD), boasts the ability to provide comparable sensitivities in a variety of channel types and provides quantification capability not previously demonstrated in backscatter detection techniques. Measurement sensitivity depends heavily on experimental parameters such as beam impingement angle, fluid volume, photodetector sensitivity, and a channel’s dimensional tolerances. The current apparatus readily quantifies fluid RI changes of 10-5 refractive index units (RIU) corresponding to pressures of approximately 14 psi and 1 psi in water and air, respectively. MIBD reports detection capability as low as 10-9 RIU and the newly adapted technique has the potential to meet and exceed this limit providing quantification in the place of detection. Specific device sensitivities are discussed and suggestions are provided on how the technique may be refined to provide optimal quantification capabilities based on experimental conditions.