Ionic and molecular selectivity are considered unique for the nanoscale and not realizable in microfluidics. This is due to the scale-matching problem—a difficulty to match the dimensions of ions and electrostatic potential screening lengths with micron-sized confinements. Here, we demonstrate a microscale realization of ionic transport processes closely resembling those specific to ionic channels or in nanofluidic junctions, including selectivity, guidance and flow focusing. As a model system, we explore electrokinetic spherical Janus micromotors moving over charged surfaces with complex charge distribution and without any topographical wall. We discuss peculiarities of the long-range electrostatic interaction on the behavior of the system including interface crossing and reflection of positively charged particles from negatively charged interfaces. These results are crucial for understanding the electrokinetic transport of biochemical species under confinement, have the potential to increase the precision of lab-on-chip-based assays, as well as broadening use cases and control strategies of nano-/micromachinery.
|Published - Dec 2022