We report an electrohydrodynamic effect arising from the application of alternating electric fields to patterned electrode surfaces. The AC fields were applied to dilute suspensions of latex microspheres enclosed between a patterned silicon wafer and an ITO-coated glass slide in a small chamber. The latex particles became collected in the center of the conductive “corrals” on the silicon wafer acting as bottom electrode. The particle collection efficiency and speed depended only on the frequency and strength of the field and were independent of the material properties of the particles or the electrodes. The leading effect in the particle collection process is AC electrohydrodynamics. We discuss how the electrohydrodynamic flows emerge from the spatially nonuniform field and interpret the experimental results by means of electrostatic and hydrodynamic simulations. The technique allows three-dimensional microfluidic pumping and transport by the use of two-dimensional patterns. We demonstrate on-chip collection of latex particles, yeast cells, and microbes.
An AC electrokinetic technique for collection and concentration of particles and cells on patterned electrodes