An electrohydrodynamic technique for rapid mixing in stationary droplets on digital microfluidic platforms
This paper presents an electrohydrodynamic technique for rapid mixing of droplets in open and closed digital microfluidic (DMF) platforms. Mixing is performed by applying a high frequency AC voltage to the coplanar or parallel electrodes, inducing circulation zones inside the droplet which results in rapid mixing of the content. The advantages of the proposed method in comparison to conventional mixing methods that operate based on transporting the droplet back and forth and side to side include 1) a shorter mixing time (as fast as 0.25 s), 2) the use of a fewer number of electrodes, reducing the size of the chip, and 3) the stationary nature of the technique which reduces the chance of cross-contamination and surface biofouling. Mixing using the proposed method is performed to create a uniform mixture after merging a water droplet with another droplet containing either particles or dye. The results show that increasing the frequency, and or the amplitude of the applied voltage, enhances the mixing process. However, actuation with a very high frequency and voltage may result in shedding pico-liter satellite droplets. Therefore, for each frequency there is an effective range of the amplitude which provides rapid mixing and avoids shedding satellite droplets. Also, the increase in the gap height between the two plates (for the closed DMF platforms) significantly enhances the mixing efficiency due to the lower viscous effects. Effects of the addition of salts and DNA to the samples were also studied. The electrothermal effect decreased for these cases, which was solved by increasing the frequency of the applied voltage. To assure the high frequency actuation does not increase the sample temperature excessively, the temperature change was monitored using a thermal imaging camera and it was found that the increase in temperature is negligible.