Purdue University Graduate School

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Version 2 2024-05-08, 21:37
Version 1 2024-05-08, 16:21
posted on 2024-05-08, 21:37 authored by Yuhang FangYuhang Fang

Nature moves small things by chemical energy. Inspired by this, catalytic reactions driven microswimmers have been designed and believed to be promising to help transport drugs and other cargos at microscales. However, decorating the microswimmers with drugs and cargos would make them heavy and hard to move. An alternative solution to this would be designing self-pumping devices that can pump the fluid and things carried by the fluid all together without external resources. In this work, we have presented the first full numerical model of electrochemically-powered self-pumping in the Pt-Au coated polycarbonate membrane reported by Jun and Hess [1]. The simulations demonstrate that autonomous flow in self-pumping membranes is an electro-osmotic flow driven by a self-generated electric field. The injection and consumption of H+ on Pt and Au respectively lead to a charge asymmetry and an associated electric field that acts on the electric double layers (EDL) coating the pore walls driving fluid move, i.e. self-electro-osmosis. Key parameters controlling the performance of self-pumping are pore radius and background pH values, as they affect the EDL overlap and ionic strength. Other parameters such as porosity and pore length can both be tuned to find the local optimum for a membrane design. By tuning these parameters, the trade-off between increased ionic current and increased ionic strength could be balanced, contributing to an optimum self-pumping performance. When inclination or deformation occurs in cylindrical pores, the self-pumping flow does not significantly deviate from the trend. Membranes with complicated shape of contracting/expanding pores and cross-linked connecting pores should follow same pattern as cylindrical pores with similar pore size. In addition, if we replace the Pt/Au catalytic pairs by TiO2/Au photocatalytic pairs, self-pumping membrane could be driven by light. The geometry of pore enhances the light absorption, enabling self-pumping membrane achieving high flow rate at large porosity with relatively large pores. At the end, we provide experimental evidence of self-pumping flow on TiO2-Au plates as well as self-pumping membrane driven by light.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Mechanical Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

David Warsinger

Additional Committee Member 2

Thomas Beechem

Additional Committee Member 3

Steven T. Wereley

Additional Committee Member 4

Alexandra Boltasseva

Additional Committee Member 5

Jeffrey Lawrence Moran