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8 May 2014 Dielectrophoresis microjets: a merging of electromagnetics and microfluidics for on-chip technologies
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Digital (droplet-based) microfluidic systems apply electromagnetic characteristics as the fundamental fluid actuation mechanism. These systems are often implemented in two-dimensional architectures, overcoming one-dimensional continuous flow channel practical issues. The fundamental operation for digital microfluidics requires the creation of an electric field distribution to achieve desired fluid actuation. The electric field distribution is typically non-uniform, enabling creation of net dielectrophoresis (DEP) force. The DEP force magnitude is proportional to the difference between microdroplet and surrounding medium complex dielectric constants, and the gradient of the electric field magnitude squared. Force sign/direction can be manipulated to achieve a force towards higher (positive DEP) or lower (negative DEP) electrostatic energy by tailoring the relative difference between microdroplet and surrounding medium complex dielectric constants through careful selection of the devices fabrication materials. The DEP force magnitudes and directions are applied here for well-controlled and high-speed microdroplet actuation. Control and speed characteristics arise from significant differences in the microdroplet/medium conductivity and the use of a micropin architecture with strong electric field gradients. The implementation, referred to here as a DEP microjet, establishes especially strong axial propulsion forces. Single- and double-micropin topologies achieve strong axial propulsion force, but only the double-micropin topology creates transverse converging forces for stable and controlled microdroplet actuation. Electric field distributions for each topology are investigated and linked to axial and transverse forces. Experimental results are presented for both topologies. The double-micropin topology is tested with biological fluids. Microdroplet actuation speeds up to 25 cm/s are achieved—comparable to the fastest speeds to-date.
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Kyle A. Hill, Christopher M. Collier, and Jonathan F. Holzman "Dielectrophoresis microjets: a merging of electromagnetics and microfluidics for on-chip technologies", Proc. SPIE 9129, Biophotonics: Photonic Solutions for Better Health Care IV, 912931 (8 May 2014);

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