Journal article

A simple mechanism for reliable particle sorting in a microdevice with combined electroosmotic and pressure-driven flow

Selective transport and sorting of particles in microfluidic devices by electroosmosis is complicated due to superposition of uncontrolled hydrodynamic pressure contributions on the electroosmotic force. In this paper, we present a microfluidic concept for the reliable and simple separation and sorting of particles in a microchip by electroosmosis combined with pressure-driven flow. The presented device allows fluid quantities to be switched and particles to be sorted within a channel manifold using only a single power supply with fixed voltage and an electric switch. Consequently, chip operation and fluid switching procedure are greatly simplified compared to a situation, in which several independent power sources are used for flow balancing, as is the common procedure. With the triple-T channel design presented, backpressure flow disturbing the electrokinetic fluid and particle separation process is eliminated by introducing controlled opposed hydrodynamic flow of buffer from side channels. This pressure-driven flow is generated on-chip by setting up differences in the reservoir pressures in a defined manner. A detailed flow analysis based on the equivalence of fluid flow and electric current is performed and the conditions for reliable chip function are worked out.


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