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Continuous Droplet-Actuating Platforms via an Electric Field Gradient: Electrowetting and Liquid Dielectrophoresis

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posted on 20.05.2021, 20:31 by Iman Frozanpoor, Michael. D. Cooke, Vibin Ambukan, Andrew. J. Gallant, Claudio Balocco
This work develops a technology for actuating droplets of any size without the requirement for high voltages or active control systems, which are typically found in competitive systems. The droplet actuation relies on two microelectrodes separated by a variable gap distance to generate an electrostatic gradient. The physical mechanism for the droplet motion is a combination of liquid dielectrophoresis and electrowetting. Investigating the system behavior as a function of the driving frequency identified the relative contribution of these two mechanisms and the optimum operating conditions. A fixed signal frequency of 0.5 kHz actuated various liquids and contaminants. Droplet actuation was demonstrated on several platforms, including linear, radial-symmetric, and bilateral-symmetric droplet motion. The electrode designs are scalable and can be fabricated on a flexible and optically transparent substrate: these key advancements will enable consumer applications that were previously inaccessible. A self-cleaning platform was also tested under laboratory conditions and on the road. This technology has significant potential in microfluidics and self-cleaning platforms, for example, in the automotive sector to clean body parts, camera covers, and sensors.

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