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Author Topic: Project Overview  (Read 4932 times)

Cruncher Pete

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Project Overview
« on: May 22, 2009, 02:11:37 PM »


Project Summary
The advent of the integrated circuit in 1959 led to the miniaturization and development of a plethora of commercial and industrial devices. However, these miniature circuits are no longer limited to transistors and capacitors. Motors, valves, and sensors can be combined with electronic components to form a complete system. Just as integrated circuits have revolutionized electronics, so MEMS (microelectrical-mechanical systems) will revolutionize medical devices, biosensors and consumer products of the future.
Nevertheless, MEMS has several formidable technical hurdles to overcome. Fluid behavior, in particular surface tension, is significantly different at these small scales. This weak surface force gains importance and dominates at micron length scales due to the high surface area to volume ratio [1]. For example, the pressure required to force a bubble through a circular micro-channel into a water reservoir can exceed 100 kPa (~1 atmosphere), a pressure well above the specifications of many micropumps. Obviously, tasks such as filling a channel and purging a gas bubble are not trivial. Unfortunately, no generic set of design rules for the exact geometry of filling-friendly microfluidic structures exists up to now.

Fuel cells, like MEMS devices, are affected by surface tension phenomena. New cell designs incorporate smaller channels, down to 5 um, to enhance transport and improve efficiency. However, gas slugs can form in channels of electrode membranes due to sloshing or chemical reactions resulting in a decrease in efficiency. These readily block these smaller channels and are difficult to flush out. Utilization of capillary forces, channel geometry, or other effects must be done in order to achieve optimal cell performance and reliability.

While progress has been made in understanding micro-capillary phenomenon, MEMS component design has not taken advantage of this knowledge to address two-phase flow blockage and liquid filling in channels and channel junctions. The objective of this research is to investigate how channel geometry and material selection affect bubble formation, stability, and breakup. Surface tension modifying techniques, such as electro-wetting and hydrophobic/hydrophilic coatings, will be also considered. Ultimately, optimal designs and practical recommendations.


Only Microsoft Windows X86 (32bit) supported.

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