Bi-directional flow induced by an AC electroosmotic micropump with DC voltage bias

Document Type


Publication Date



This paper discusses the principle of biased alternating current electroosmosis (ACEO) and its application to move the bulk fluid in a microchannel, as an alternative to mechanical pumping methods. Previous EO-driven flow research has looked at the effect of electrode asymmetry and transverse traveling wave forms on the performance of electroosmotic pumps. This paper presents an analysis that was conducted to assess the effect of combining an AC signal with a DC (direct current) bias when generating the electric field needed to impart electroosmosis (EO) within a microchannel. The results presented here are numerical and experimental. The numerical results were generated through simulations performed using COMSOL 3.5a. Currently available theoretical models for EO flows were embedded in the software and solved numerically to evaluate the effects of channel geometry, frequency of excitation, electrode array geometry, and AC signal with a DC bias on the flow imparted on an electrically conducting fluid. Simulations of the ACEO flow driven by a constant magnitude of AC voltage over symmetric electrodes did not indicate relevant net flows. However, superimposing a DC signal over the AC signal on the same symmetric electrode array leads to a noticeable net forward flow. Moreover, changing the polarity of electrical signal creates a bi-directional flow on symmetrical electrode array. Experimental flow measurements were performed on several electrode array configurations. The mismatch between the numerical and experimental results revealed the limitations of the currently available models for the biased EO. However, they confirm that using a symmetric electrode array excited by an AC signal with a DC bias leads to a significant improvement in flow rates in comparison to the flow rates obtained in an asymmetric electrode array configuration excited just with an AC signal.


© 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim. Original published version

Publication Title