Electrokinetic techniques have a wide range of applications in droplet, particle, and fluid manipulation systems. In general, they can be categorized into different subgroups including electroosmosis, electrothermal, electrophoresis, dielectrophoresis, etc. The AC electrothermal (ACET) technique has been shown to be very effective in applications which involve high conductivity fluids, such as blood, which are typically used in biomedical applications. In the past few years, the ACET effect has received considerable attention. Unlike AC electroosmosis (ACEO), the ACET effect shows plateaus in force in a wide frequency range. In other words, with electrothermal force, velocity is more steady and predictable at different frequencies, compared to ACEO and dielectrophoresis (DEP). Although electrothermal microflows form as a result of Joule heating in the fluid, due to high conduction of heat to the ambience, the temperature rise in the fluid is not so high as to threaten the nature of the biofluids. The average temperature rise resulting from the ACET effect is below 5 °K. In order to generate high strength AC electric fields, microfabricated electrode arrays are commonly used in microchannels. For pumping applications, it is essential to create asymmetry in the electric field, typically by having asymmetrical electrode pairs. There is no defined border between many electrokinetic techniques, and as such the point where electrothermal processes interferes with other electrokinetic techniques is not clear in the literature. In addition, there have been comprehensive reviews on micropumps, electrokinetics, and their subcategories, but the literature lacks a detailed up-to-date review on electrothermal microdevices. In this paper, a brief review is made specifically on electric fields in ACET devices, in order to provide an insight for the reader about the importance of this aspect of ACET devices and the improvements made to date.
Alinaghi Salari, Maryam Navi, and Colin Dalton, "AC electrothermal technique in microchannels," Proc. SPIE 10061, Microfluidics, BioMEMS, and Medical Microsystems XV, 100610A (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 29, 2017; Published: 28 February 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2253813.
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