Separation of Ions in Nanofluidic Channels with Combined Pressure-Driven and Electro-Osmotic Flow
Separation of ionic species with the same electrophoretic mobility but different valence in electrolyte systems can occur within nanometer-scale channels with finite electrical double layers (EDLs). This is because EDL thicknesses are a significant fraction of slit height in such channels and can create transverse analyte concentration profiles that allow for unique separation modalities when combined with axial fluid flow. Previous work has shown such separation to occur using either pressure-driven flow or electro-osmotic flow separately. Here, we develop a Poisson?Boltzmann model to compare the separation of such ions using the combination of both pressure-driven and electro-osmotic flow. Applying a pressure gradient in the opposite direction of electro-osmotic flow can allow for zero or infinite retention of analyte species, which we investigate using three different wall boundary conditions. Furthermore, we determine conditions in fused silica nanochannels with which to generate optimal separation between two analytes of different charge but the same mobility. We also give simple rules of thumb to achieve the best separation efficacy in nanochannel systems.