Microfluidic concentration of sample species is achieved using the temperature gradient focusing (TGF) in a microchannel with a step change in the cross-section under a pure direct current (DC) field or a combined alternating current (AC) and DC electric field. Experiments were carried out to study the effects of applied voltage, buffer concentration and channel size on sample concentration in the TGF processes. These effects were analyzed and summarized using a dimensionless Joule number that is introduced in this study. In addition, Joule number effect in the Poly-dimethylsiloxane (PDMS)/PDMS microdevice was compared with the PDMS/Glass microdevice. A more than 450-fold concentration enhancement was obtained within 75 seconds in the PDMS/PDMS microdevice. Results also showed that the high frequency AC electric field which contributes to produce the temperature gradient and reduces the required DC voltage for the sample concentration. The lower DC voltage has generated slower electroosmotic flow (EOF), which reduces the backpressure effect associated with the finite reservoir size. Finally, a more than 2500-fold concentration enhancement was obtained within 14 minutes in the PDMS/PDMS microdevice, which was a great achievement in this TGF technique using inherent Joule heating effects.

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