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Published January 27, 2003 | public
Journal Article Open

Microfluidic actuation by modulation of surface stresses


We demonstrate the active manipulation of nanoliter liquid samples on the surface of a glass or silicon substrate by combining chemical surface patterning with electronically addressable microheater arrays. Hydrophilic lanes designate the possible routes for liquid migration while activation of specific heater elements determine the trajectories. The induced temperature fields spatially modulate the liquid surface tension thereby providing electronic control over the direction, timing, and flow rate of continuous streams or discrete drops. Temperature maps can be programed to move, split, trap, and mix ultrasmall volumes without mechanically moving parts and with low operating voltages of 2–3 V. This method of fluidic actuation allows direct accessibility to liquid samples for handling and diagnostic purposes and provides an attractive platform for palm-sized and battery-powered analysis and synthesis.

Additional Information

©2003 American Institute of Physics. (Received 26 June 2002; accepted 21 November 2002) This work is supported by NSF grant CTS-0088774, MRSEC grant DMR-9809483, a NJCST grant, and an NDSEG fellowship (J.M.D.).


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