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Issue 21, 2020
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Focusing, sorting, and separating microplastics by serial faradaic ion concentration polarization

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Abstract

In this article, we report continuous sorting of two microplastics in a trifurcated microfluidic channel using a new method called serial faradaic ion concentration polarization (fICP). fICP is an electrochemical method for forming ion depletion zones and their corresponding locally elevated electric fields in microchannels. By tuning the interplay between the forces of electromigration and convection during a fICP experiment, it is possible to control the flow of charged objects in microfluidic channels. The key findings of this report are threefold. First, fICP at two bipolar electrodes, configured in series and operated with a single power supply, yields two electric field gradients within a single microfluidic channel (i.e., serial fICP). Second, complex flow variations that adversely impact separations during fICP can be mitigated by minimizing convection by electroosmotic flow in favor of pressure-driven flow. Finally, serial fICP within a trifurcated microchannel is able to continuously and quantitatively focus, sort, and separate microplastics. These findings demonstrate that multiple local electric field gradients can be generated within a single microfluidic channel by simply placing metal wires at strategic locations. This approach opens a vast range of new possibilities for implementing membrane-free separations.

Graphical abstract: Focusing, sorting, and separating microplastics by serial faradaic ion concentration polarization

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
03 Apr 2020
Accepted
13 May 2020
First published
20 May 2020

This article is Open Access
All publication charges for this article have been paid for by the Royal Society of Chemistry

Chem. Sci., 2020,11, 5547-5558
Article type
Edge Article

Focusing, sorting, and separating microplastics by serial faradaic ion concentration polarization

C. D. Davies and R. M. Crooks, Chem. Sci., 2020, 11, 5547
DOI: 10.1039/D0SC01931C

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