Additively manufactured MEMS multiplexed coaxial electrospray sources for high-throughput, uniform generation of core–shell microparticles
This study reports the first MEMS multiplexed coaxial electrospray sources in the literature. Coaxial electrospraying is a microencapsulation technology based on electrohydrodynamic jetting of two immiscible liquids, which allows precise control with low size variation of the geometry of the core–shell particles it generates, which is of great importance in numerous biomedical and engineering applications, e.g., drug delivery and self-healing composites. By implementing monolithic planar arrays of miniaturized coaxial electrospray emitters that work uniformly in parallel, the throughput of the compound microdroplet source is greatly increased, making the microencapsulation technology compatible with low-cost commercial applications. Miniaturized core–shell particle generators with up to 25 coaxial electrospray emitters (25 emitters cm−2) were fabricated via stereolithography, which is an additive manufacturing process that can create complex microfluidic devices at a small fraction of the cost per device and fabrication time associated with silicon-based counterparts. The characterization of devices with the same emitter structure but different array sizes demonstrates uniform array operation. Moreover, the data demonstrate that the per-emitter current is approximately proportional to the square root of the flow rate of the driving liquid, and it is independent of the flow rate of the driven liquid, as predicted by the theory. The core/shell diameters and the size distribution of the generated compound microparticles can be modulated by controlling the flow rates fed to the emitters.
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