Coupled electrorotation of polymer microspheres for microfluidic sensing and mixing.
Coupling between microscale objects in an AC field causes rotation and mixing.
We show that coupled electrorotation (CER) of microscopic particles using microfabricated electrodes can be used for localized sensing and mixing. The effective use of microelectromechanical systems and micro total analysis systems requires many types of control. These include the abilityto (1) manipulate objects within microchannels by noncontact means, (2) mix fluids, and (3) sense local chemical parameters. Coupled electrorotation, in which the interactions between induced electric dipoles of adjacent particles lead to particle rotation, addresses aspects of all three challenges simultaneously. CER is a simple means of controlling the rotation of dielectric objects using homogeneous external radio frequency electric fields. CER is sensitive to several chemical and physical parameters such as the solution conductivity, pH, and viscosity. As a step toward integrating CER devices into microfluidic systems, a simple chip was designed to induce local mixing and to detect local changes in salt concentration, pH, and viscosity.