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Issue 3, 2003
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Joule heating and heat transfer in poly(dimethylsiloxane) microfluidic systems

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Joule heating is a significant problem in electrokinetically driven microfluidic chips, particularly polymeric systems where low thermal conductivities amplify the difficulty in rejecting this internally generated heat. In this work, a combined experimental (using a microscale thermometry technique) and numerical (using a 3D “whole-chip” finite element model) approach is used to examine Joule heating and heat transfer at a microchannel intersection in poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS), and hybrid PDMS/Glass microfluidic systems. In general the numerical predictions and the experimental results agree quite well (typically within ± 3 °C), both showing dramatic temperature gradients at the intersection. At high potential field strengths a nearly five fold increase in the maximum buffer temperature was observed in the PDMS/PDMS chips over the PDMS/Glass systems. The detailed numerical analysis revealed that the vast majority of steady state heat rejection is through lower substrate of the chip, which was significantly impeded in the former case by the lower thermal conductivity PDMS substrate. The observed higher buffer temperature also lead to a number of significant secondary effects including a near doubling of the volume flow rate. Simple guidelines are proposed for improving polymeric chip design and thereby extend the capabilities of these microfluidic systems.

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Publication details

The article was received on 02 Jun 2003, accepted on 03 Jul 2003 and first published on 17 Jul 2003

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B306158B
Citation: Lab Chip, 2003,3, 141-149
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    Joule heating and heat transfer in poly(dimethylsiloxane) microfluidic systems

    D. Erickson, D. Sinton and D. Li, Lab Chip, 2003, 3, 141
    DOI: 10.1039/B306158B

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