[Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering] Electrowetting-based microfluidic operations on rap
The heat transport capacity of traditional heat pipes is limited by the capillary pressure generated in the internal wick that pumps condensate to the evaporator. Recently, the authors conceptualized a novel heat pipe architecture, wherein wick-based pumping is replaced by electrowetting (EW)-based pumping of microliter droplets in the adiabatic section. An electrowetting heat pipe (EHP) can overcome the capillary limit to heat transport capacity and enable compact, planar, gravity-insensitive, and ultralow power consumption heat pipes that transport kiloWatt heat loads over extended distances. This work develops a novel technique for rapid, scalable fabrication of EW-based devices and studies critical microfluidic operations underlying the EHP, with the objective of predicting the key performance parameters of the EHP. Devices are fabricated on a printed circuit board (PCB) substrate with mechanically-milled electrodes, and a removable polyimide dielectric film. The first set of experiments uncovers the maximum channel gap (1 mm) for reliable EW-based pumping; this parameter determines the heat transport capacity of the EHP, which scales linearly with the channel gap. The second set of experiments uncovers the maximum channel gap (375 microns) at which EW voltages can successfully split droplets. This is an important consideration which ensures EHP operability in the event of unintentional droplet merging. The third set of experiments demonstrate and study EW-induced droplet generation from an open-to-air reservoir, which mimics the interface between the condenser and adiabatic sections of the EHP. The experimental findings predict that planar, water-based EHPs with a (10 cm by 4 mm) cross section can transport 1.6 kW over extended distances (>1 m), with a thermal resistance of 0.01 K W−1.
Author e-mails firstname.lastname@example.org Author affiliations 1 McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, United States of America
2 Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, United States of America
Dates Received 5 February 2017 Accepted 4 May 2017 Published 2 June 2017