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Microfluidics differ from conventional fluid flows in that viscous forces dominate. As a result, microfluidics offer unprecedented control over fluid flows. The precise manipulation of fluids can be applied anywhere from healthcare in medical diagnostics to pharmaceutical companies miniaturizing reactions to reduce reagent consumption. In order to apply microfluidics as a comprehensive solution, unit operations must be performed – such as mixing, sorting, dilution, and much more. This work investigates mixing using thermal inkjet technology. Unlike macroscopic fluid flows with turbulence, transport phenomena become restricted in microfluidics. Active mixing approaches apply external forces (such as thermal or electric) to enhance mixing. This work focuses on a utilizing thermal inkjet technology as an active mixing technique. Y-shaped microfluidic channels have been built utilizing CNC and laser cutting manufacturing techniques. Fluid is delivered to each port via external syringe pumps. Each Y-shaped channel contains thermal inkjet (TIJ) resistors built using conventional microfabrication techniques. The resistors vaporize water and generate drive bubbles that act as active micro-mixers. The extent of mixing was characterized and studied in order to access the feasibility of TIJ resistors as integrated, compact micro-mixers in microfluidics.

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