American Chemical Society
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Electroosmotic Flow Hysteresis for Dissimilar Anionic Solutions

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-07-18, 00:00 authored by An Eng Lim, Chun Yee Lim, Yee Cheong Lam
Electroosmotic flow (EOF) with two or more fluids is often encountered in various microfluidic applications. However, no investigation has hitherto been conducted to investigate the hysteretic or flow direction-dependent behavior during displacement flow of solutions with dissimilar anion species. In this investigation, EOF of dissimilar anionic solutions was studied experimentally through the current monitoring method and numerically through finite element simulations. As opposed to other conventional displacement flows, EOF involving dissimilar anionic solutions exhibits counterintuitive behavior, whereby the current–time curve does not reach the steady-state value of the displacing electrolyte. Two distinct mechanics have been identified as the causes for this observation: (a) ion concentration adjustment when the displacing anions migrate upstream against EOF due to competition between the gradients of electromigrative and convective fluxes and (b) ion concentration readjustment induced by the static diffusive interfacial region between the dissimilar fluids which can only be propagated throughout the entire microchannel with the presence of EOF. The resultant ion distributions lead to the flow rate to be directional-dependent, indicating that the flow conditions are asymmetric between these two different flow directions. The outcomes of this investigation contribute to the in-depth understanding of flow behavior in microfluidic systems involving inhomogeneous fluids, particularly dissimilar anionic solutions. The understanding of EOF hysteresis is fundamentally important for the accurate prediction of analytes transport in microfluidic devices under EOF.