The proposed research deals with the problem of sorting and separating biomolecules using a microfluidic network of micron- or nanometre-sized channels. The flow in the network is driven by electrical potentials induced by electrodes placed at various node s of the network. We propose to carry out a comprehensive study (both analytical and computational) of the resulting electroosmotic flow (EOF) in the network in order to determine the channel configuration and the electric potential distribution required t o propel different sized molecules to exit through different outlet channels.
The essentially flat velocity profile of EOF should provide higher resolution and much quicker process times than the traditional method of gel eletrophoretic separation. A novel feature that we are proposing is to employ slowly converging inlet channels (for reducing the entropic forces) and slowly diverging outlet channels (for ease of collecting the separated molecules). Our ultimate aim is to integrate the computational scheme we develop with micro-fabrication procedures to rapidly prototype custom-designed channel configurations for particular applications.
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