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Liquid metal enabled pump

Tang, Shi-Yang, Khoshmanesh, Khashayar, Sivan, Vijay, Petersen, Phred, O’Mullane, Anthony P., Abbott, Derek, Mitchell, Arnan, Kalantar-zadeh, Kourosh
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2014 v.111 no.9 pp. 3304-3309
electric field, fluid mechanics, liquids, metals, pumps, systems engineering
Small-scale pumps will be the heartbeat of many future micro/nanoscale platforms. However, the integration of small-scale pumps is presently hampered by limited flow rate with respect to the input power, and their rather complicated fabrication processes. These issues arise as many conventional pumping effects require intricate moving elements. Here, we demonstrate a system that we call the liquid metal enabled pump, for driving a range of liquids without mechanical moving parts, upon the application of modest electric field. This pump incorporates a droplet of liquid metal, which induces liquid flow at high flow rates, yet with exceptionally low power consumption by electrowetting/deelectrowetting at the metal surface. We present theory explaining this pumping mechanism and show that the operation is fundamentally different from other existing pumps. The presented liquid metal enabled pump is both efficient and simple, and thus has the potential to fundamentally advance the field of microfluidics.