Countering capillarity with electrokinetics: from micro-manipulation to Debye-layer diagnostics<br/><br/>

Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 10:50am - 11:30am
EE/CS 3-180
Paul Steen (Cornell University)
Electroosmosis, originating in the Debye-layer near the solid/liquid boundary within a fully-saturated porous substrate, can pump successfully against the capillary pressure arising from the surface tension of a droplet placed in series with the pump. As droplet size diminishes, the voltage required to pump electroosmotically down-scales favorably. The technological implication is that electromechanical transducers made of large arrays of small droplets, so-called 'droplet micro-manipulators', and Debye-layer 'diagnostic machines', inferring zeta-potential by measuring interface deflection of a droplet-pump-droplet configuration, become feasible. These applications will be illustrated and we will describe the current modeling of such multi-scale interfacial systems, highlighting open questions that might benefit from an applied mathematical approach.
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