Continuous flow actuation between external reservoirs in small-scale devices driven by surface acoustic waves
We have designed and characterized a surface acoustic wave (SAW) fluid actuation platform that significantly improves the transmission of sound energy from the SAW device into the fluid in order to obtain enhanced performance. This is in distinct contrast to previous SAW microfluidic devices where the SAW substrate is simply interfaced with a microchannel without due consideration given to the direction in which the sound energy is transmitted into the fluid, thus resulting in considerable reflective and dissipative losses due to reflection and absorption at the channel walls. For the first time, we therefore demonstrate the ability for continuous fluid transfer between independent reservoirs driven by the SAW in a miniature device and report the associated pressure–flow rate relationship, in which a maximum flow rate of 100 μl min−1 and pressure of 15 Pa were obtained. The pumping efficiency is observed to increase with input power and, at peak performance, offers an order-of-magnitude improvement over that of existing SAW micropumps that have been reported to date.