Nonlinear electrokinetic transport under combined ac and dc fields in micro/nanofluidic interface devices

Vishal V.R. Nandigana, N. R. Aluru

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The integration of micro/nanofluidic devices led to many interesting phenomena and one of the most important and complex phenomenon among them is concentration polarization. In this paper, we report new physical insights in micro/nanofluidic interface devices on the application of ac and dc electric fields. By performing detailed numerical simulations based on the coupled Poisson, Nernst-Planck, and incompressible Navier-Stokes equations, we discuss electrokinetic transport and other hydrodynamic effects under the application of combined ac and dc electric fields for different nondimensional electrical double layer (EDL) thicknesses and nanochannel wall surface charge densities. We show that for a highly ion-selective nanochannel, the application of the combined ac/dc electric field, at amplitudes greater than the dc voltage and at a low Strouhal number, results in large dual concentration polarization regions (with unequal lengths) at both the micro/nanofluidic interfaces due to large and unequal voltage drops at these junctions. The highly nonlinear potential distribution gives rise to an electric field and body force that changes the electrokinetic fluid velocity from that obtained on the application of only a dc source.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number021201
JournalJournal of Fluids Engineering, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013


  • ac/dc field
  • concentration polarization
  • electrokinetic transport
  • induced space charge
  • micro-nanofluidic channel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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