Experimental Study on Nano-/Microparticles Transport to Characterize Structures in Fractured Porous Media

Anna Suzuki, Junzhe Cui, Yuran Zhang, Satoshi Uehara, Kewen Li, Roland N. Horne, Takatoshi Ito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Nano- and microparticles are expected to have several functionalities, and the ability to control size and shape is an advantage of using nano-/microparticles. This study investigated a possibility that the sizes of nano-/microparticle can be used to extract new information on structures in a fractured medium. Flow experiments were conducted to observe the particle transport in a micromodel on which a single fracture and rock matrix (grain and pore space) was fabricated on a silicon wafer. Water and nano-/microparticles were injected into the micromodel, and the droplets were collected at the outlet. Tunable Resistive Pulse Sensing (TRPS) was used to measure the frequency distributions of particle diameters from each droplet at each time. The result shows that the larger particles were observed only at early time, while the smaller particles were detected at early time and also at late time. This indicates that the larger particles flow in a fracture quickly, while smaller particles migrate through both fracture and matrix over a wider range of time. Particles with different sizes transport through fractured media differently depending on the fracture structures. The tracer response of nano- and microparticles may be useful to evaluate the fracture structures and the flow properties for different flow pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4357-4365
Number of pages9
JournalRock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct 1


  • Flow experiment
  • Fracture
  • Micromodel
  • Particle tracers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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