As modern day electronics develop, electronic devices become smaller, more powerful, and are expected to operate in more diverse configurations. However, the thermal control systems that help these devices maintain stable operation must advance as well to meet the demands. One such demand is the advent of flexible electronics for wearable technology, medical applications, and biology-inspired mechanisms. This paper presents the design and performance characteristics of a proof of concept for a flexible Electrohydrodynamic (EHD) pump, based on EHD conduction pumping technology in macro- and meso-scales. Unlike mechanical pumps, EHD conduction pumps have no moving parts, can be easily adjusted to the micro-scale, and have been shown to generate and control the flow of refrigerants for electronics cooling applications. However, these pumping devices have only been previously tested in rigid configurations unsuitable for use with flexible electronics. In this work, for the first time, the net flow generated by flexible EHD conduction pumps is measured on a flat-plane and in various bending configurations. In this behavioral characteristics study, the results show that the flexible EHD conduction pumps are capable of generating significant flow velocities in all size scales considered in this study, with and without bending. This study also proves the viability of screen printing as a manufacturing method for these pumps.
EHD conduction pumping technology shows potential for use in a wide range of terrestrial and space applications, including thermal control of rigid as well as flexible electronics, flow generation and control in micro-scale heat exchangers and other thermal devices, as well as cooling of high power electrical systems, soft robotic actuators, and medical devices.