To fully realize the potential of microfluidic platforms as useful diagnostic tools, the devices must be sufficiently portable that they function at the point-of-care, as well as remote and resource-poor locations. Using both modeling and experiments, here we develop a standalone fluidic device that is driven by light and operates without the need for external electrical or mechanical pumps. The light initiates a photochemical reaction in the solution; the release of chemical energy from the reaction is transduced into the spontaneous motion of the surrounding fluid. The generated flow is driven by two simultaneously occurring mechanisms: solutal buoyancy that controls the motion of the bulk fluid and diffusioosmosis that regulates motion near the bottom of the chamber. Consequently, the bulk and surface fluid flows can be directed independently of one another. We demonstrate that this exceptional degree of spatiotemporal control provides a new method for autonomously transporting different-sized particles in opposite directions within the chamber. Thus, one device can be used to both separate the particles and drive them to different locations for further processing or analysis. This property is particularly useful for analyzing fluids that contain multiple contaminants or disease agents. Because this system relies on intrinsic hydrodynamic interactions initiated by a portable, small-scale source of light, the device provides the desired level of mobility vital for the next generation of functional fluidic platforms.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)