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“Particle-Free” Magnetic Actuation of Droplets on Superhydrophobic Surfaces Using Dissolved Paramagnetic Salts

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posted on 2016-09-08, 00:00 authored by Lili Mats, Fiona Logue, Richard D. Oleschuk
Magnetic actuation is a droplet manipulation mechanism in digital microfluidics (DMF), where droplets can be actuated over a (super)­hydrophobic surface with a magnetic force. Superparamagnetic particles or ferromagnetic liquids are added to the droplets to provide a “handle” by which the magnet can exert a force on the droplet. In this study, we present a novel method of magnetic manipulation, where droplets instead contain paramagnetic salts with molar magnetic susceptibilities (χm) approximately ≈10 000× < that for superparamagnetic particles. Droplet actuation is facilitated by low surface friction on fluorous silica nanoparticle-based superhydrophobic coatings, where <2 μN is required for reproducible droplet actuation. Different paramagnetic salts with χm from ≈4500 to 72 000 (× 10–6 cm3 mol–1) were used to make aqueous solutions of different concentration and tested for droplet actuation and sliding angle using permanent magnets (1.8–2.1 kG). Paramagnetic salts are compared in terms of solubility, minimum required concentration, and maximum droplet velocity before disengagement. There is a strong correlation between the magnetic susceptibility of the salt solution, its concentration, and ease of actuation. As an application example, droplets containing a paramagnetic salt and doxorubicin (leukemia drug) are magnetically actuated and interrogated using laser-induced fluorescence. Signal attenuation due to the MnCl2 salt was examined, and the Stern–Volmer quenching constant was determined.