A droplet-generator-on-a-chip actuated by ECF (electro-conjugate fluid) micropumps

  • Zebing Mao
  • Kazuhiro Yoshida
  • Joon-wan KimEmail author
Research Paper


The traditional power sources for generating droplets are bulky devices such as syringe pumps, constant pressure systems and so on, resulting in difficult integration with other microfluidic components. To overcome this limitation, we propose and develop a droplet generator with its power sources on a chip (22 × 21 × ~ 1 mm). The compact droplet generator consists of two ECF (electro-conjugate fluid) micropumps, a T-junction channel geometry made of SU-8, a water chamber and three I/O ports. In our methodology, the two ECF micropumps are used to pump the continuous phase fluid (oil) directly and the dispersed phase fluid (water) indirectly on a chip. ECF is a kind of functional and dielectric oil, which can generate a strong and active ECF jet when its corresponding electrodes are applied to high DC voltages. Our ECF micropump is composed of triangular prism and silt electrode pairs (TPSEs) and is able to control flow rates precisely on a chip. In our device, the water in oil droplet is formed by the T-junction geometry. Using MEMS technology, we successfully fabricate the droplet-generator-on-a-chip. Span 80 and dibutyl decanedioate (DBD, Tokyo Chemical Industry Co., Ltd) are used as the surfactant and one type of ECF, respectively. Prior to the characteristic experiments of the T-junction generator, we investigate viscosity, electrical conductivity and relative permittivity of the mixtures of DBD and Span 80 at different concentrations (0 wt%, 1 wt%, 3 wt% and 5 wt%). We also research the impact of the mixtures on the performance of ECF micropumps and the wettability of SU-8 fluidic channels. After that, we confirm the flow pattern diagrams of two-phase fluids, the generated droplet diameter and the droplet production rate for our droplet-generator. Therefore, our droplet generator powered by ECF micropumps can realize the droplet generation on a chip.


ECF micropumps T-junction Droplets Dibutyl decanedioate Span 80 



A part of this work was supported by a JSPS KAKENHI Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B), Grant number 18H01359.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical Engineering, School of EngineeringTokyo Institute of TechnologyYokohamaJapan
  2. 2.Laboratory for FutureInterdisciplinary Research of Science and Technology (FIRST), Tokyo Institute of TechnologyYokohamaJapan

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