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EchoGrid: High-Throughput Acoustic Trapping for Enrichment of Environmental Microplastics

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posted on 2024-05-25, 05:03 authored by Martim Costa, Björn Hammarström, Liselotte van der Geer, Selim Tanriverdi, Haakan N. Joensson, Martin Wiklund, Aman Russom
The health hazards of micro- and nanoplastic contaminants in drinking water has recently emerged as an area of concern to policy makers and industry. Plastic contaminants range in size from micro- (5 mm to 1 μm) to nanoplastics (<1 μm). Microfluidics provides many tools for particle manipulation at the microscale, particularly in diagnostics and biomedicine, but has in general a limited capacity to process large volumes. Drinking water and environmental samples with low-level contamination of microplastics require processing of deciliter to liter sample volumes to achieve statistically relevant particle counts. Here, we introduce the EchoGrid, an acoustofluidics device for high throughput continuous flow particle enrichment into a robust array of particle clusters. The EchoGrid takes advantage of highly efficient particle capture through the integration of a micropatterned transducer for surface displacement-based acoustic trapping in a glass and polymer microchannel. Silica seed particles were used as anchor particles to improve capture performance at low particle concentrations and high flow rates. The device was able to maintain the silica grids at a flow rate of 50 mL/min. In terms of enrichment, the device is able to double the final pellet’s microplastic concentration every 78 s for 23 μm particles and every 51 s for 10 μm particles at a flow rate of 5 mL/min. In conclusion, we demonstrate the usefulness of the EchoGrid by capturing microplastics in challenging conditions, such as large sample volumes with low microparticle concentrations, without sacrificing the potential of integration with downstream analysis for environmental monitoring.

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