Electrokinetic effects adjacent to charge-selective interfaces (CSI) have been experimentally investigated in microfluidic platforms in order to gain understanding on underlying phenomena of ion transport at elevated applied voltages. We experimentally investigate the influence of geometry and multiple array densities of the CSI on concentration and flow profiles in a microfluidic set-up using nanochannels as the CSI. Particle tracking obtained under chronoamperometric measurements show the development of vortices in the microchannel adjacent to the nanochannels. We found that the direction of the electric field and the potential drop inside the microchannel has a large influence on the ion transport through the interface, for example by inducing immediate wall electroosmotic flow. In microfluidic devices, the electric field may not be directed normal to the interface, which can result in an inefficient use of the CSI. Multiple vortices are observed adjacent to the CSI, growing in size and velocity as a function of time and dependent on their location in the microfluidic device. Local velocities inside the vortices are measured to be more than 1.5 mm/s. Vortex speed, as well as flow speed in the channel, are dependent on the geometry of the CSI and the distance from the electrode.
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Observation and experimental investigation of confinement effects on ion transport and electrokinetic flows at the microscale