Microfluidic slug transport on traveling-wave surface topographies by mechanowetting

Edwin de Jong, Jaap M. J. Den Toonder, Patrick R. Onck*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Nature often uses capillary forces to manipulate fluids, which has inspired scientists to develop new applications, such as in microfluidics and laboratory-on-a-chip systems. Here we present a method to transport fluids in microfluidic channels, by exploiting the capillary interaction of fluid interfaces with traveling surface waves, called mechanowetting. We found that the three-phase lines of fluid slugs dynamically attach to the crests of the waves, resulting in fluid velocities that are equal to the wave speed. By comparing this microfluidic slug flow to conventional peristaltic fluid propulsion, we demonstrate that fluid velocities can be reached that are one order of magnitude larger. We quantified the efficiency numerically and theoretically in terms of the generated pressure gradient using a closed channel and measured the evolution of the pressure distribution as the wave progresses. The method was shown to work for a very wide range of contact angles. We anticipate that our results will lead to new microfluidic applications based on switchable topography technology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number063604
Number of pages10
JournalPhysical review fluids
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 8-Jun-2020



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