Moving Fluids in the Right Direction

One challenge in creating miniature labs-on-a-chip is keeping fluids moving in the desired direction. The top image above shows red and blue droplets being moved toward one another on the top and bottom of a vibrating surface. Eventually, they meet and mix in the middle. To force the fluids in the right direction, the surface is highly textured, as seen in the lower image. These tiny posts and arcs help trap air between the surface and the drop. This makes the drop’s contact area with the superhydrophobic substrate quite small. The arcs provide directionality, and, as the surface shakes, the drops inch along, releasing the arc on the trailing edge as they make contact with a new one. In effect, the droplets walk themselves just where their designers want them to go. (Image and research credit: T. Duncombe et al.; via SciTechDaily)

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