Rapid generation and manipulation of microfluidic vortex flows induced by AC electrokinetics with optical illumination†
We demonstrate a rapid generation of twin opposing microvortices (TOMVs) induced by non-uniform alternating current (AC) electric fields together with a laser beam on a patterned pair of indium tin oxide (ITO) electrodes. A fast and strong jet flow region between twin microvortices is also generated. Its pattern and direction, such as whether it is symmetric or asymmetric, are controlled mainly by the location of a single laser spot relative to the ITO electrodes. With two laser beams, two separate flows are superposed to give a new one. In situ generation and control of the TOMV flow are tested in suspensions of fluorescent polystyrene particles, as well as in milk emulsions. This technique has great potential for dynamically manipulating micro-fluid flows, functioning as a micro-pump or mixer.