Amplified Electrokinetic Response by Concentration Polarization near Nanofluidic Channel

2009-07-07T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Sung Jae Kim Leon D. Li Jongyoon Han
Ion concentration polarization is the fundamental transport phenomenon that occurs near ion-selective membranes, but this important membrane phenomenon has been poorly understood due to theoretical and experimental challenges. Here, we report the first direct measurements of detailed flow and electric potential profiles within and near the depletion region. This work is an important step toward a full characterization of this coupled transport problem. Using microfabricated electrodes integrated with the microfluidic device, we measured and confirmed that the electric field inside an ion depletion region is amplified more than 30-fold compared to outside of the depletion zone due to the highly nonuniform ion concentration distribution along the microchannel. As a result, the electrokinetic motion of both fluid (electroosmosis) and particle (electrophoresis) was significantly amplified. The detailed flow profile within the depletion zone was also measured for the first time by optically tracking photobleached neutral dye molecules. We further showed that the amplified electrokinetic flows generated in this device may be used as a field-controlled, microfluidic fluid pump and switch.