High Frequency Microbubble-switched Oscillations Modulated by Microfluidic Transistors

Description:

Reference #:  00967

The University of South Carolina is offering licensing opportunities for this novel use of a thermal, bubble driven micro-pump.

Invention Description:

The invention provides a way passively and effectively to manage two-phase flow instabilities with a dramatic reduction in pumping power. It demonstrates a high performance thermal bubble actuation mechanism and introduces advection and high frequency rewetting in micro-channels for the first time. The novel actuation mechanism, powered by the high frequency explosive vapor bubble growth and collapse, can create and sustain strong mixing in micro-channels, which significantly enhance heat transfer rate and liquid supply.

Potential Applications:

Micro-scale fluidic logics, micro-mixers, micro-actuators, and flow controls.

Background:

Micro-scale, two-phase flow is, at present, one of the hottest topics of heat transfer research, both in academia and in industry. The miniaturization of two-phase flow systems, which has led to numerous experimental and theoretical challenges not yet completely resolved, is primarily related to the dissipation of high heat duties typical of compact systems such as CPU (central processing unit) chips, electronic devices, micro chemical reactors, and micro fuel cell combustors.

It is challenging to enhance flow boiling in micro-channels without introducing additional flow resistance or power requirements. Two-phase flow instabilities are the most challenging issues in enhancing flow boiling in micro-channels, which are characterized by significant fluctuations of temperature and pressure during flow boiling, especially in plane wall micro-channels. Thus, enhancing frequency of two-phase oscillations (TPOs) remains an important goal to further advance micro-scale fluidic logics, micro-mixers, micro-actuators, and flow controls.

Amongst several applications in a wide variety of industries, micro-fluidics is a powerful tool that is currently revolutionizing chemical and biological analysis by replicating laboratory bench-top technology on a miniature chip-scale device, thus allowing assays to be carried out at a fraction of the time and cost while affording portability and field-use capability. TPO frequency has been hindered by confinements of compressible vapor bubbles and low thermal diffusivity in microfluidic systems.

Advantages and Benefits:

1. Demonstrates a high performance thermal bubble actuation mechanism.

2.  Introduces advection and high frequency rewetting in micro-channels for the first time.

3.  Passively and effectively manages two-phase flow instabilities with a dramatic reduction in pumping power.

4. This could enable ultra-compact and efficient thermal bubble driven micro-pump and be the first practical micro-channel, two-phase cooling technology.

 

Patent Information:
Title App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Expire Date Patent Status
Enhanced Flow Boiling in Microchannels by High Frequency Microbubble-Excited and –Modulated Oscillations Utility United States 13/828,701 9,103,468 3/14/2013 8/11/2015    
For Information, Contact:
Technology Commercialization
University of South Carolina
technology@sc.edu
Inventors:
Chen Li
Fanghao Yang
Xianming Dai
Yan Tong
Keywords:
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