Bubble actuation by electrowetting-on-dielectric (EWOD) and its applications: A review

  • Sang Kug Chung
  • Kyehan Rhee
  • Sung Kwon Cho


This paper reviews the principles, operations, and applications of bubble-based electrowetting-on-dielectric (EWOD). EWOD has proved to be an efficient tool in digital microfluidics that employs discrete droplets, and various applications that use the principles of EWOD have been developed from lab-on-a-chip to optical systems. Similar to its use with droplets, EWOD can also be applied to gaseous bubbles. This review begins with a discussion of the principles of EWOD for a bubble on an electrode covered with a hydrophobic dielectric layer. It then addresses EWOD actuation and the transportation of a bubble in an aqueous medium, along with a physical explanation of bubble motion. The operation of EWOD is then extended to the on-chip creation/elimination and splitting of bubbles. In particular, micro-mixers and pumps are discussed as potential applications of these operations. Unlike droplets, bubbles can be easily oscillated by external excitation, which provides additional functionalities. By integrating EWOD with external excitation, a number of new advanced applications are introduced, including the capture/separation of particles and the propulsion of objects. In these advanced operations, cavitational microstreaming flows and acoustic radiation forces are mainly responsible for the physical mechanisms. This paper also discusses these advanced operations along with their underlying physics. It is expected that in addition to bubble oscillation, other bubble actuation modes will create new functionalities and new potential applications.


Microfluidics Lab-on-a-chip Bubble dynamics Cavitational microstreaming 



fluid density


fluid dynamic viscosity


mean fluid velocity


characteristic length


contact angle under an applied electrical potential


equilibrium contact angle


electrical potential


permittivity of a dielectric layer


interfacial tension


thickness of a dielectric layer


contact angle on the right side of a bubble


contact angle on the left side of a bubble


advancing contact angle


receding contact angle


width of a bubble base


radius of a bubble


bubble driving force


streaming function of a cavitational streaming flow


amplitude of bubble oscillation normalized by a radius of a bubble


angular frequency of an applied acoustic wave


distance from a bubble center


phase shift between volume and translational oscillations


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Copyright information

© Korean Society for Precision Engineering and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringMyongji UniversityGyeonggidoSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials ScienceUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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