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A Programmable Array for Contact-Free Manipulation of Floating Droplets on Featureless Substrates by the Modulation of Surface Tension

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2 Author(s)
Amar S. Basu ; Dept. of Electr. Eng. & Comput. Sci., Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA ; Yogesh B. Gianchandani

This paper presents a contactless droplet manipulation system that relies on thermally generated Marangoni flows. Programmable 2-D control of aqueous microdroplets suspended in an oil film on a plain featureless glass substrate is achieved using a 128-pixel heater array suspended 100-500 mum above the oil layer. The heaters generate surface temperature perturbations (<25degC), resulting in local Marangoni flows that can move droplets in either a push or a pull mode. Programmed movement is achieved by the sequential activation of the heaters, with digital control circuitry and a graphical interface providing addressable control of each heater. Droplets with diameters of 300-1000 mum are manipulated and merged at speeds up to 140 mum/s. Evaporation rates can be reduced by almost two orders of magnitude by using a two-layer-oil medium, and the choice of an optimum carrier fluid can achieve fluid velocities over 17 000 mum/s. The system provides a contactless platform for parallel droplet-based assays. As such, it circumvents the challenges of sample contamination and loss that occur when a droplet interacts with a solid surface.

Published in:

Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems  (Volume:18 ,  Issue: 6 )