An experimental study was conducted to further our understanding about the fundamental physics of electrokinetic instability (EKI) and to explore the effectiveness to enhance fluid mixing inside a Y-shaped microchannel by manipulating convective EKI waves. The dependence of the critical voltage of applied static electric field to trig EKI to generate convective EKI waves on the conductivity ratio of the two adjacent streams was quantified at first. The effect of the strength of the applied static electric field on the evolution of the convective EKI waves and fluid mixing process were assessed in terms of scalar concentration fields, shedding frequency of the convective EKI waves and scalar mixing efficiency. The effectiveness of manipulating the convective EKI waves by introducing alternative electric perturbations to the applied static electric fields was also explored for the further enhancement of the fluid mixing process inside the Y-shaped microchannel.

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