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Linear and rotational microhydraulic actuators driven by electrowetting

Published in:
Sci. Robot., Vol. 3, No. 22, 19 September 2018.

Summary

Microhydraulic actuators offer a new way to convert electrical power to mechanical power on a microscale with an unmatched combination of power density and efficiency. Actuators work by combining surface tension force contributions from a large number of droplets distorted by electrowetting electrodes. This paper reports on the behavior of microgram-scale linear and rotational microhydraulic actuators with output force/weight ratios of 5500, cycle frequencies of 4 kilohertz, <1-micrometer movement precision, and accelerations of 3 kilometers/second. The power density and the efficiency of the actuators were characterized by simultaneously measuring the mechanical work performed and the electrical power applied. Maximum output power density was 0.93 kilowatt/kilogram, comparable with the best electric motors. At maximum power, the actuator was 60% efficient, but efficiencies were as high as 83% at lower power. Rotational actuators demonstrated a torque density of 79 newton meters/kilogram, substantially more than electric motors of comparable diameter. Scaling the droplet pitch from 100 to 48 micrometers increased power density from 0.27 to 0.93 kilowatt/kilogram, validating the quadratic scaling of actuator power.
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Summary

Microhydraulic actuators offer a new way to convert electrical power to mechanical power on a microscale with an unmatched combination of power density and efficiency. Actuators work by combining surface tension force contributions from a large number of droplets distorted by electrowetting electrodes. This paper reports on the behavior of...

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Optical Nondestructive Dynamic Measurements of Wafer-Scale Encapsulated Nanofluidic Channels

Published in:
Applied Optics, vol. 57, no. 15

Summary

Nanofluidic channels are of great interest for DNA sequencing, chromatography, and drug delivery. However, metrology of embedded or sealed nanochannels and measurement of their fill-state have remained extremely challenging. Existing techniques have been restricted to optical microscopy, which suffers from insufficient resolution, or scanning electron microscopy, which cannot measure sealed or embedded channels without cleaving the sample. Here, we demonstrate a novel method for accurately extracting nanochannel cross-sectional dimensions and monitoring fluid filling, utilizing spectroscopic ellipsometric scatterometry, combined with rigorous electromagnetic simulations. Our technique is capable of measuring channel dimensions with better than 5-nm accuracy and assessing channel filling within seconds. The developed technique is, thus, well suited for both process monitoring of channel fabrication as well as for studying complex phenomena of fluid flow through nanochannel structures.
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Summary

Nanofluidic channels are of great interest for DNA sequencing, chromatography, and drug delivery. However, metrology of embedded or sealed nanochannels and measurement of their fill-state have remained extremely challenging. Existing techniques have been restricted to optical microscopy, which suffers from insufficient resolution, or scanning electron microscopy, which cannot measure sealed...

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Bioelectronic measurement and feedback control of molecules in living cells

Published in:
Sci. Rep., Vol. 7, No. 1, 2 October 2017, 12511.

Summary

We describe an electrochemical measurement technique that enables bioelectronic measurements of reporter proteins in living cells as an alternative to traditional optical fluorescence. Using electronically programmable microfluidics, the measurement is in turn used to control the concentration of an inducer input that regulates production of the protein from a genetic promoter. The resulting bioelectronic and microfluidic negative-feedback loop then serves to regulate the concentration of the protein in the cell. We show measurements wherein a user-programmable set-point precisely alters the protein concentration in the cell with feedback-loop parameters affecting the dynamics of the closed-loop response in a predictable fashion. Our work does not require expensive optical fluorescence measurement techniques that are prone to toxicity in chronic settings, sophisticated time-lapse microscopy, or bulky/expensive chemo-stat instrumentation for dynamic measurement and control of biomolecules in cells. Therefore, it may be useful in creating a: cheap, portable, chronic, dynamic, and precise all-electronic alternative for measurement and control of molecules in living cells.
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Summary

We describe an electrochemical measurement technique that enables bioelectronic measurements of reporter proteins in living cells as an alternative to traditional optical fluorescence. Using electronically programmable microfluidics, the measurement is in turn used to control the concentration of an inducer input that regulates production of the protein from a genetic...

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Open-source, community-driven microfluidics with Metafluidics

Published in:
Nat. Biotechnol., Vol. 35, No. 6, 7 June 2017, pp. 523-9.

Summary

Microfluidic devices have the potential to automate and miniaturize biological experiments, but open-source sharing of device designs has lagged behind sharing of other resources such as software. Synthetic biologists have used microfluidics for DNA assembly, cell-free expression, and cell culture, but a combination of expense, device complexity, and reliance on custom set-ups hampers their widespread adoption. We present Metafluidics, an open-source, community-driven repository that hosts digital design files, assembly specifications, and open-source software to enable users to build, configure, and operate a microfluidic device. We use Metafluidics to share designs and fabrication instructions for both a microfluidic ring-mixer device and a 32-channel tabletop microfluidic controller. This device and controller are applied to build genetic circuits using standard DNA assembly methods including ligation, Gateway, Gibson, and Golden Gate. Metafluidics is intended to enable a broad community of engineers, DIY enthusiasts, and other nontraditional participants with limited fabrication skills to contribute to microfluidic research.
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Summary

Microfluidic devices have the potential to automate and miniaturize biological experiments, but open-source sharing of device designs has lagged behind sharing of other resources such as software. Synthetic biologists have used microfluidics for DNA assembly, cell-free expression, and cell culture, but a combination of expense, device complexity, and reliance on...

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Re-engineering Artificial Muscle with Microhydraulics

Published in:
Nature Microsystems & Nanoengineering, vol. 3

Summary

We introduce a new type of actuator, the microhydraulic stepping actuator (MSA), which borrows design and operational concepts from biological muscle and stepper motors. MSAs offer a unique combination of power, efficiency, and scalability not easily achievable on the microscale. The actuator works by integrating surface tension forces produced by electrowetting acting on scaled droplets along the length of a thin ribbon. Like muscle, MSAs have liquid and solid functional components and can displace a large
fraction of their length. The 100 μm pitch MSA presented here already has an output power density of over 200 W kg− 1, rivaling the most powerful biological muscles, due to the scaling of surface tension forces, MSA’s power density grows quadratically as its dimensions are reduced.
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Summary

We introduce a new type of actuator, the microhydraulic stepping actuator (MSA), which borrows design and operational concepts from biological muscle and stepper motors. MSAs offer a unique combination of power, efficiency, and scalability not easily achievable on the microscale. The actuator works by integrating surface tension forces produced by...

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Microhydraulic electrowetting actuators

Published in:
J. Microelectromech. Syst., Vol. 25, No. 2, April 2016, pp. 394-400.

Summary

The conversion of electrical to mechanical power on a sub-centimeter scale is a key technology in many microsystems and energy harvesting devices. In this paper, we present a type of a capacitive energy conversion device that uses capillary pressure and electrowetting to reversibly convert electrical power to hydraulic power. These microhydraulic actuators use a high surface-to-volume ratio to deliver high power at a relatively low voltage with an energy conversion efficiency of over 65%. The capillary pressure generated grows linearly with shrinking capillary diameter, as does the frequency of actuation. We present the pressure, frequency, and power scaling properties of these actuators and demonstrate that power density scales up as the inverse capillary diameter squared, leading to high-efficiency actuators with a strength density exceeding biological muscle. Two potential applications for microhydraulics are also demonstrated: soft-microrobotics and energy harvesting.
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Summary

The conversion of electrical to mechanical power on a sub-centimeter scale is a key technology in many microsystems and energy harvesting devices. In this paper, we present a type of a capacitive energy conversion device that uses capillary pressure and electrowetting to reversibly convert electrical power to hydraulic power. These...

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In situ microfluidic SERS assay for monitoring enzymatic breakdown of organophosphates

Published in:
Nanoscale, Vol. 7, No. 25, 2015, 11013-23.

Summary

In this paper, we report on a method to probe the breakdown of the organophosphate (OP) simulants o, s-diethyl methyl phosphonothioate (OSDMP) and demeton S by the enzyme organophosphorous hydrolase (OPH) in a microfluidic device by surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). SERS hotspots were formed on-demand inside the microfluidic device by laser-induced aggregation of injected Ag NPs suspensions. The Ag NP clusters, covering micron-sized areas, were formed within minutes using a conventional confocal Raman laser microscope. These Ag NP clusters were used to enhance the Raman spectra of the thiol products of OP breakdown in the microfluidic device: ethanethiol (EtSH) and (ethylsulfanyl) ethane-1-thiol (2-EET). When the OPH enzyme and its substrates OSDMP and demeton S were introduced, the thiolated breakdown products were generated, resulting in changes in the SERS spectra. With the ability to analyze reaction volumes as low as 20 nL, our approach demonstrates great potential for miniaturization of SERS analytical protocols.
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Summary

In this paper, we report on a method to probe the breakdown of the organophosphate (OP) simulants o, s-diethyl methyl phosphonothioate (OSDMP) and demeton S by the enzyme organophosphorous hydrolase (OPH) in a microfluidic device by surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). SERS hotspots were formed on-demand inside the microfluidic device...

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Development of adaptive liquid microlenses and microlens arrays

Published in:
SPIE Photonics West 2013: MOEMS-MEMS, 2-7 February 2013.

Summary

We report on the development of sub-millimeter size adaptive liquid microlenses and microlens arrays using two immiscible liquids to form individual lenses. Microlenses and microlens arrays having aperture diameters as small as 50 microns were fabricated on a planar quartz substrate using patterned hydrophobic/hydrophilic regions. Liquid lenses were formed by a self-assembled oil dosing process that created well-defined lenses having a high fill factor. Variable focus was achieved by controlling the lens curvature through electrowetting. Greater than 70 degrees of contact angle change was achieved with less than 20 volts, which results in a large optical power dynamic range.
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Summary

We report on the development of sub-millimeter size adaptive liquid microlenses and microlens arrays using two immiscible liquids to form individual lenses. Microlenses and microlens arrays having aperture diameters as small as 50 microns were fabricated on a planar quartz substrate using patterned hydrophobic/hydrophilic regions. Liquid lenses were formed by...

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Reversible electrowetting on dual-scale-patterned corrugated microstructured surfaces

Published in:
J. of Microeletromechanical Systems, Vol. 21, No. 5, October 2012, pp. 1261-71.

Summary

The ability to reversibly switch between a hydrophobic Cassie state and a hydrophilic Wenzel state is often not possible on textured surfaces because of energy barriers which result from the geometry of the microstructure. In this paper, we report on a simple microstructure geometry that allows an aqueous droplet to be reversibly switched between these states by the application of electrowetting. We demonstrate reversible electrowetting in air on microstructured surfaces consisting of parallel corrugations and show that this geometry can be engineered to produce a Cassie state and can be electrically controlled to switch to a Wenzel wetting state having high adhesion. When the electric field was removed, we observed spontaneous dewetting along the corrugations as the droplet transitioned from the Wenzel state back to a Cassie state.
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Summary

The ability to reversibly switch between a hydrophobic Cassie state and a hydrophilic Wenzel state is often not possible on textured surfaces because of energy barriers which result from the geometry of the microstructure. In this paper, we report on a simple microstructure geometry that allows an aqueous droplet to...

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New generation of digital microfluidic devices

Published in:
J. Microelectromech. Syst., Vol. 18, No. 4, August 2009, pp. 845-851.

Summary

This paper reports on the design, fabrication, and performance of micro-sized fluidic devices that use electrowetting to control and transport liquids. Using standard microfabrication techniques, new pumping systems are developed with significantly more capability than open digital microfluidic systems that are often associated with electrowetting. This paper demonstrates that, by integrating closed microchannels with different channel heights and using electrowetting actuation, liquid interfaces can be controlled, and pressure work can be done, resulting in fluid pumping. The operation of two different on-chip pumps and devices that can form water drops is described. In addition, a theory is presented to explain the details of single-electrode actuation in a closed channel.
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Summary

This paper reports on the design, fabrication, and performance of micro-sized fluidic devices that use electrowetting to control and transport liquids. Using standard microfabrication techniques, new pumping systems are developed with significantly more capability than open digital microfluidic systems that are often associated with electrowetting. This paper demonstrates that, by...

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