Newfound attention has been given to solute transport in nanochannels. Because the electric double layer (EDL) thickness is comparable to characteristic channel dimensions, nanochannels have been used to separate ionic species with a constant charge-to-size ratio (i.e., electrophoretic mobility) that otherwise cannot be separated in electroosmotic or pressure-driven flow along microchannels. In nanochannels, the electrical fields within the EDL cause transverse ion distributions and thus yield charge-dependent mean ion speeds in the flow. Surface roughness is usually inevitable during microfabrication of microchannels or nanochannels. Surface roughness is usually inevitable during the fabrication of nanochannels. In the present study, we develop a numerical model to investigate the transport of charged solutes in nanochannels with hundreds of roughness-like structures. The model is based on continuum theory that couples Navier-Stokes equations for flows, Poisson-Boltzmann equation for electrical fields, and Nernst-Planck equation for solute transports. Different operating conditions are considered and the solute transport patterns in rough channels are compared with those in smooth channels. Results indicate that solutes move slower in rough nanochannels than in smooth ones for both pressure-driven and electroosmotic flows. Moreover, solute separation can be significantly improved by surface roughness under certain circumstances.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.