Numerical Analysis of the Heterogeneity Effect on Electroosmotic Micromixers Based on the Standard Deviation of Concentration and Mixing Entropy Index

Micromachines (Basel). 2021 Aug 31;12(9):1055. doi: 10.3390/mi12091055.


One approach to achieve a homogeneous mixture in microfluidic systems in the quickest time and shortest possible length is to employ electroosmotic flow characteristics with heterogeneous surface properties. Mixing using electroosmotic flow inside microchannels with homogeneous walls is done primarily under the influence of molecular diffusion, which is not strong enough to mix the fluids thoroughly. However, surface chemistry technology can help create desired patterns on microchannel walls to generate significant rotational currents and improve mixing efficiency remarkably. This study analyzes the function of a heterogeneous zeta-potential patch located on a microchannel wall in creating mixing inside a microchannel affected by electroosmotic flow and determines the optimal length to achieve the desired mixing rate. The approximate Helmholtz-Smoluchowski model is suggested to reduce computational costs and simplify the solving process. The results show that the heterogeneity length and location of the zeta-potential patch affect the final mixing proficiency. It was also observed that the slip coefficient on the wall has a more significant effect than the Reynolds number change on improving the mixing efficiency of electroosmotic micromixers, benefiting the heterogeneous distribution of zeta-potential. In addition, using a channel with a heterogeneous zeta-potential patch covered by a slip surface did not lead to an adequate mixing in low Reynolds numbers. Therefore, a homogeneous channel without any heterogeneity would be a priority in such a range of Reynolds numbers. However, increasing the Reynolds number and the presence of a slip coefficient on the heterogeneous channel wall enhances the mixing efficiency relative to the homogeneous one. It should be noted, though, that increasing the slip coefficient will make the mixing efficiency decrease sharply in any situation, especially in high Reynolds numbers.

Keywords: Helmholtz–Smoluchowski model; electroosmotic micromixer; heterogeneous zeta-potential; mixing.