Ejected Droplet-Directed Transportation and Self-Alignment of Microfibers to Micro Trenches

Bo Chang*, Yu H. Feng, Jia L. Jin, Quan Zhou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Microfibers are important components in the fabrication of fiber-reinforced materials, and the distribution and alignment of microfibers can affect the mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties of the fiber-reinforced materials. However, it remains a challenge to precisely align and distribute microfibers on a large scale at a high throughput. This paper reports a facile droplet-directed method to transport and self-align microfibers to micro trenches using droplets ejected from a non-contact dispenser. Employing super hydrophilic-super hydrophobic trenches with sizes matching the microfibers, the method can align and transport randomly dispersed fibers around trenches into the trenches as desired. We studied this alignment and transport mechanism and the results suggest that liquid volume is critical to allow the capillary force to be dominant leading to the success of the process. We demonstrated that microfibers having an aspect ratio of 200, a diameter of 15 μm and a length of 3 mm, can reliably self-align to super hydrophilic-super hydrophobic trenches and transport to the target location, achieving linear alignment accuracy of 0.5 μm and angular accuracy of 0.1°. The high accuracy and fast process of the proposed technique may greatly impact larger scale and high throughput construction of complex microstructures using microfibers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-758
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Microelectromechanical Systems
Volume30
Issue number5
Early online dateJul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Capillary self-alignment
  • Force
  • Friction
  • Liquids
  • micro manipulation
  • microassembly
  • microfibers
  • Substrates
  • super hydrophilic-super hydrophobic patterned surfaces.
  • Surface morphology
  • Torque
  • Transportation

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