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Micromachines (Basel). 2018 Feb 25;9(3). pii: E92. doi: 10.3390/mi9030092.

Electrowetting Using a Microfluidic Kelvin Water Dropper.

Author information

1
Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA. eyazd001@odu.edu.
2
Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA. tangqiang102@126.com.
3
State Key Lab of Mechanics and Control of Mechanical Structures, Nanjing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210016, China. tangqiang102@126.com.
4
Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA. x1zhang@odu.edu.

Abstract

The Kelvin water dropper is an electrostatic generator that can generate high voltage electricity through water dripping. A conventional Kelvin water dropper converts the gravitational potential energy of water into electricity. Due to its low current output, Kelvin water droppers can only be used in limited cases that demand high voltage. In the present study, microfluidic Kelvin water droppers (MKWDs) were built in house to demonstrate a low-cost but accurately controlled miniature device for high voltage generation. The performance of the MKWDs was characterized using different channel diameters and flow rates. The best performed MKWD was then used to conduct experiments of the electrowetting of liquid on dielectric surfaces. Electrowetting is a process that has been widely used in manipulating the wetting properties of a surface using an external electric field. Usually electrowetting requires an expensive DC power supply that outputs high voltage. However, in this research, it was demonstrated that electrowetting can be conducted by simply using an MKWD. Additionally, an analytic model was developed to simulate the electrowetting process. Finally, the model's ability to well predict the liquid deformation during electrowetting using MKWDs was validated.

KEYWORDS:

COMSOL; electrowetting; high voltage; microfluidic Kelvin water dropper

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest. The founding sponsors had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, and in the decision to publish the results.

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