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Issue 11, 2012
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Capacitance-based droplet position estimator for digital microfluidic devices

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Abstract

Digital microfluidic (DMF) devices manipulate minuscule droplets through basic fluidic operations including droplet transport, mixing and splitting commonly known as the building blocks for complete laboratory analyses on a single device. A DMF device can house various chemical species and confine chemical reactions within the volume of a droplet much like a micro-reactor. The automation of fluidic protocols requires a feedback controller whose sensor is capable of locating droplets independent of liquid composition (or previous knowledge of liquid composition). In this research, we present an estimator that tracks the continuous displacement of a droplet between electrodes of a DMF device. The estimator uses a dimensionless ratio of two electrode capacitances to approximate the position of a droplet, even, in the domain between two adjacent electrodes. This droplet position estimator significantly enhances the control precision of liquid handling in DMF devices compared to that of the techniques reported in the literature. It captures the continuous displacement of a droplet; valuable information for a feedback controller to execute intricate fluidic protocols including droplet positioning between electrodes, droplet velocity and acceleration control. We propose a state estimator for tracking the continuous droplet displacement between two adjacent electrodes. The dimensionless nature of this estimator means that any droplet composition can be sensed. Thus, no calibration for each chemical species within a single DMF device is required. We present theoretical and experimental results that demonstrate the efficacy of the position estimator in approximating the position of the droplet in the interval between two electrodes.

Graphical abstract: Capacitance-based droplet position estimator for digital microfluidic devices

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Publication details

The article was received on 13 Dec 2011, accepted on 07 Mar 2012 and first published on 15 Mar 2012


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C2LC21241B
Citation: Lab Chip, 2012,12, 2053-2059
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    Capacitance-based droplet position estimator for digital microfluidic devices

    M. A. Murran and H. Najjaran, Lab Chip, 2012, 12, 2053
    DOI: 10.1039/C2LC21241B

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