Pattern formation in drying blood drops

Michael J. Hertaeg, Rico F. Tabor, Alexander F. Routh, Gil Garnier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Patterns in dried droplets are commonly observed as rings left after spills of dirty water or coffee have evaporated. Patterns are also seen in dried blood droplets and the patterns have been shown to differ from patients afflicted with different medical conditions. This has been proposed as the basis for a new generation of low-cost blood diagnostics. Before these diagnostics can be widely used, the underlying mechanisms leading to pattern formation in these systems must be understood. We analyse the height profile and appearance of dispersions prepared with red blood cells (RBCs) from healthy donors. The red cell concentrations and diluent were varied and compared with simple polystyrene particle systems to identify the dominant mechanistic variables. Typically, a high concentration of non-volatile components suppresses ring formation. However, RBC suspensions display a greater volume of edge deposition when the red cell concentration is higher. This discrepancy is caused by the consolidation front halting during drying for most blood suspensions. This prevents the standard horizontal drying mechanism and leads to two clearly defined regions in final crack patterns and height profile. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'A cracking approach to inventing new tough materials: fracture stranger than friction'.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2203
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2021


  • blood
  • coffee ring
  • diagnostics
  • droplet drying
  • drying

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