Microfluidic devices are utilized to control and direct flow behavior in a wide variety of applications, particularly in medical diagnostics. A particularly popular form of microfluidics -- called inertial microfluidic flow sculpting -- involves placing a sequence of pillars to controllably deform an initial flow field into a desired one. Inertial flow sculpting can be formally defined as an inverse problem, where one identifies a sequence of pillars (chosen, with replacement, from a finite set of pillars, each of which produce a specific transformation) whose composite transformation results in a user-defined desired transformation. Endemic to most such problems in engineering, inverse problems are usually quite computationally intractable, with most traditional approaches based on search and optimization strategies. In this paper, we pose this inverse problem as a Reinforcement Learning (RL) problem. We train a DoubleDQN agent to learn from this environment. The results suggest that learning is possible using a DoubleDQN model with the success frequency reaching 90% in 200,000 episodes and the rewards converging. While most of the results are obtained by fixing a particular target flow shape to simplify the learning problem, we later demonstrate how to transfer the learning of an agent based on one target shape to another, i.e. from one design to another and thus be useful for a generic design of a flow shape.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/baskar-ganapathysubramanian/76/