Interfacial microfluidic transport on micropatterned superhydrophobic textile†
Textile-enabled interfacial microfluidics, utilizing fibrous hydrophilic yarns (e.g., cotton) to guide biological reagent flows, has been extended to various biochemical analyses recently. The restricted capillary-driving mechanism, however, persists as a major challenge for continuous and facilitated biofluidic transport. In this paper, we have first introduced a novel interfacial microfluidic transport principle to drive three-dimensional liquid flows on a micropatterned superhydrophobic textile (MST) platform in a more autonomous and controllable manner. Specifically, the MST system utilizes the surface tension-induced Laplace pressure to facilitate the liquid motion along the hydrophilic yarn, in addition to the capillarity present in the fibrous structure. The fabrication of MST is simply accomplished by stitching hydrophilic cotton yarn into a superhydrophobic fabric substrate (contact angle 140 ± 3°), from which well-controlled wetting patterns are established for interfacial microfluidic operations. The geometric configurations of the stitched micropatterns, e.g., the lengths and diameters of the yarn and bundled arrangement, can all influence the transport process, which is investigated both experimentally and theoretically. Two operation modes, discrete and continuous transport, are also presented in detail. In addition, the gravitational effect as well as the droplet removal process have been also considered and quantitatively analysed during the transport process. As a demonstration, an MST design has been implemented on an artificial skin surface to collect and remove sweat in a highly efficient and facilitated means. The results have illustrated that the novel interfacial transport on the textile platform can be potentially extended to a variety of biofluidic collection and removal applications.