Electropermanent magnet-driven droplet size modulation for two-phase ferromicrofluidics

Padovani, J. I., A. M. Ibrahim, S. S. Jeffrey, Y. H. Anis, and R. T. Howe, Electropermanent magnet-driven droplet size modulation for two-phase ferromicrofluidics, , vol. 24, issue 12, pp. 93, 2020.


A new ferrofluidic droplet generator is demonstrated using an electropermanent magnet to change the viscosity of the ferrofluid oil phase in a flow-focusing junction, which enables control of the aqueous droplet size. Electropermanent magnets are capable of fast switching (< 100 $$\upmu$$μs) and have magnetic field strengths comparable to those of permanent magnets. When switched on, the magnetoviscous effect increases the viscosity of the ferrofluid, thus increasing the channel’s fluidic resistance, slowing the flow rate of the oil-based phase and changing the droplet diameter. We have demonstrated on-demand droplet size modulation as large as 44% at speeds fast enough to modulate the size of a single droplet in a stream. Due to compliance in the supply tubing and Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) microfluidic channels, the change in droplet size relaxes with a time scale of seconds. An application of droplet size modulation was demonstrated by integrating a passive size-based magnetic droplet sorting stage.



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