Graphene-mediated microfluidic transport and nebulization via high frequency Rayleigh wave substrate excitation†
The deposition of a thin graphene film atop a chip scale piezoelectric substrate on which surface acoustic waves are excited is observed to enhance its performance for fluid transport and manipulation considerably, which can be exploited to achieve further efficiency gains in these devices. Such gains can then enable complete integration and miniaturization for true portability for a variety of microfluidic applications across drug delivery, biosensing and point-of-care diagnostics, among others, where field-use, point-of-collection or point-of-care functionality is desired. In addition to a first demonstration of vibration-induced molecular transport in graphene films, we show that the coupling of the surface acoustic wave gives rise to antisymmetric Lamb waves in the film which enhance molecular diffusion and hence the flow through the interstitial layers that make up the film. Above a critical input power, the strong substrate vibration displacement can also force the molecules out of the graphene film to form a thin fluid layer, which subsequently destabilizes and breaks up to form a mist of micron dimension aerosol droplets. We provide physical insight into this coupling through a simple numerical model, verified through experiments, and show several-fold improvement in the rate of fluid transport through the film, and up to 55% enhancement in the rate of fluid atomization from the film using this simple method.