Light-driven 3D droplet manipulation on flexible optoelectrowetting devices fabricated by a simple spin-coating method†
Technical advances in electrowetting-on-dielectric (EWOD) over the past few years have extended our attraction to three-dimensional (3D) devices capable of providing more flexibility and functionality with larger volumetric capacity than conventional 2D planar ones. However, typical 3D EWOD devices require complex and expensive fabrication processes for patterning and wiring of pixelated electrodes that also restrict the minimum droplet size to be manipulated. Here, we present a flexible single-sided continuous optoelectrowetting (SCOEW) device which is not only fabricated by a spin-coating method without the need for patterning and wiring processes, but also enables light-driven 3D droplet manipulations. To provide photoconductive properties, previous optoelectrowetting (OEW) devices have used amorphous silicon (a-Si) typically fabricated through high-temperature processes over 300 °C such as CVD or PECVD. However, most of the commercially-available flexible substrates such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) experience serious thermal deformation under such high-temperature processes. Because of this compatibility issue of conventional OEW devices with flexible substrates, light-driven 3D droplet manipulations have not yet been demonstrated on flexible substrates. Our study overcomes this compatibility issue by using a polymer-based photoconductive material, titanium oxide phthalocyanine (TiOPc) and thus SCOEW devices can be simply fabricated on flexible substrates through a low-cost, spin-coating method. In this paper, analytical studies were conducted to understand the effects of light patterns on static contact angles and EWOD forces. For experimental validations of our study, flexible SCOEW devices were successfully fabricated through the TiOPc-based spin-coating method and light-driven droplet manipulations (e.g. transportation, merging, and splitting) have been demonstrated on various 3D terrains such as inclined, vertical, upside-down, and curved surfaces. Our flexible SCOEW technology offers the benefits of device simplicity, flexibility, and functionality over conventional EWOD and OEW devices by enabling optical droplet manipulations on a 3D featureless surface.