Electrothermal enrichment of submicron particles in an insulator‐based dielectrophoretic microdevice

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EarlyView Article

  • Published: Nov 14, 2017
  • Author: Akshay Kale, Le Song, Xinyu Lu, Liandong Yu, Guoqing Hu, Xiangchun Xuan


Insulator‐based dielectrophoresis (iDEP) exploits in‐channel hurdles and posts etc. to create electric field gradients for various particle manipulations. However, the presence of such insulating structures also amplifies the Joule heating in the fluid around themselves, leading to both temperature gradients and electrothermal flow. These Joule heating effects have been previously demonstrated to weaken the dielectrophoretic focusing and trapping of microscale and nanoscale particles. We find that the electrothermal flow vortices are able to entrain submicron particles for a localized enrichment near the insulating tips of a ratchet microchannel. This increase in particle concentration is reasonably predicted by a full‐scale numerical simulation of the mass transport along with the coupled charge, heat and fluid transport. Our model also predicts the electric current and flow pattern in the fluid with a good agreement with the experimental observations.

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