Application of magnetohydrodynamic actuation to continuous flow chemistry†
Continuous flow microreactors with an annular microchannel for cyclical chemical reactions were fabricated by either bulk micromachining in silicon or by rapid prototyping using EPON SU-8. Fluid propulsion in these unusual microchannels was achieved using AC magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) actuation. This integrated micropumping mechanism obviates the use of moving parts by acting locally on the electrolyte, exploiting its inherent conductive nature. Both silicon and SU-8 microreactors were capable of MHD actuation, attaining fluid velocities of the order of 300 μm s−1 when using a 500 mM KCl electrolyte. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a thermocycling process, was chosen as an illustrative example of a cyclical chemistry. Accordingly, temperature zones were provided to enable a thermal cycle during each revolution. With this approach, fluid velocity determines cycle duration. Here, we report device fabrication and performance, a model to accurately describe fluid circulation by MHD actuation, and compatibility issues relating to this approach to chemistry.