N. Mavrogiannis, M. Desmond, K. Ling, X. Fu, and Z. Gagnon
Micromachines, 7, 214, 2016
Publication year: 2016



Microfluidic platforms capable of complex on-chip processing and liquid handling enable a wide variety of sensing, cellular, and material-related applications across a spectrum of disciplines in engineering and biology. However, there is a general lack of available active microscale mixing methods capable of dynamically controlling on-chip solute concentrations in real-time. Hence, multiple microfluidic fluid handling steps are often needed for applications that require buffers at varying on-chip concentrations. Here, we present a novel electrokinetic method for actively mixing laminar fluids and controlling on-chip concentrations in microfluidic channels using fluidic dielectrophoresis. Using a microfluidic channel junction, we co-flow three electrolyte streams side-by-side so that two outer conductive streams enclose a low conductive central stream. The tri-laminar flow is driven through an array of electrodes where the outer streams are electrokinetically deflected and forced to mix with the central flow field. This newly mixed central flow is then sent continuously downstream to serve as a concentration boundary condition for a microfluidic gradient chamber. We demonstrate that by actively mixing the upstream fluids, a variable concentration gradient can be formed dynamically downstream with single a fixed inlet concentration. This novel mixing approach offers a useful method for producing variable on-chip concentrations from a single inlet source.