Analyte transport past a nanofluidic intermediate electrode junction in a microfluidic device

Xiuli Mao, Brent R. Reschke, Aaron T. Timperman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A glass microfluidic device is presented in which a microchannel is split into two regions with different electric fields by a nanochannel intermediate electrode junction formed by dielectric breakdown. The objective is to sink current through the nanochannel junction without sample loss or broadening of the band as it passes the junction. This type of performance is desired in many microfluidic applications, including the coupling of microchannel/CE with ESI-MS, electrochemical detection, and electric field gradient focusing. The voltage offsets in this study are suitable for microchannel/CE-ESI-MS. Imaging of the transport of model anions and cations through the junction indicates that the junction exhibits nanofluidic behavior and the mean depth of the nanochannel is estimated to be ∼105 nm. The ion permselectivity of the nanochannel induces concentration polarization and enriched and depleted concentration polarization zones form on opposite sides of the nanochannel, altering the current and electric field distributions along the main microchannel. Anion transport efficiency past the junction was high, 96.0%, and varied little over the pH range of 4.0-8.0. In contrast, cation transport is much lower, and decreases from 72 to 11% from pH 4.0 to 8.0. Band broadening increases with increasing pH less than 70% over the pH range of 4.0-8.0. It is anticipated that this characterization will aid in the understanding and optimization of such junctions made from permselective membranes and porous glass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2686-2694
Number of pages9
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Current sink
  • Electrode junction
  • Microfluidics
  • Nanofluidic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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