Diffusion layer formation drives zone migration in travelling wave electrophoresis
COMSOL finite element modeling software is used to simulate 2D traveling-wave electrophoresis for microfluidic separations and sample concentration. A four-phase AC potential is applied to a periodic interdigitated four-electrode array to produce a longitudinal electric wave that travels through the channel. Charged particles are carried along with the electric wave or left behind, depending on their mobilities. A simplified model of asymmetric electrode reactions resolves the issue of electric double layer shielding at the electrodes. Selective reactions allow for the formation of diffusion layers of charged particles which follow the traveling electric wave. These diffusion layers determine the transport of charged species through the system. Our model reproduces experimental separations of charged species based on mobility. With easy control over the frequency and direction, one may employ this method for concentrating and/or separating charged particles.