Tunable Nanochannels Connected in Series for Dynamic Control of Multiple Concentration-Polarization Layers and Preconcentrated Molecule Plugs

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Integration of ionic permselective medium (e.g., nanochannels, membranes) within microfluidic channels has been shown to enable on-chip desalination, sample purification, bioparticle sorting, and biomolecule concentration for enhanced detection sensitivity. However, the ion-permselective mediums are generally of fixed properties and cannot be dynamically tuned. Here we study a microfluidic device consisting of an array of individually addressable elastic membranes connected in series on top of a single microfluidic channel that can be deformed to locally reduce the channel cross-section into a nanochannel. Dynamic tunability of the ion-permselective medium, as well as controllability of its location and ionic permselectivity, introduces a new functionality to microfluidics-based lab-on-a-chip devices, for example, dynamic localization of preconcentrated biomolecule plugs at different sensing regions for multiplex detection. Moreover, the ability to simultaneously form a series of preconcentrated plugs at desired locations increases parallelization of the system and the trapping efficiency of target analytes.

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