This study presents an active method for micro-mixers using surface acoustic waves (SAW) to rapidly mix co-fluent fluids. Mixing is challenging work in microfluidic systems due to their low-Reynolds-number flow conditions. SAW devices were fabricated on 128° Y-cut lithium niobate (LiNbO3). The micro-mixers are these piezoelectric actuators integrated with polydimethylsiloxane microchannels. The effects of the applied voltages on interdigitated transducers (IDTs) and two layouts, parallel- and transversal-type, of micro-mixers on the mixing performance were experimentally explored. The experimental results revealed that the parallel-type mixer achieved a higher mixing effect. Meanwhile, a higher applied voltage on the IDTs led to a significant improvement in the mixing performance of the active micro-mixer. Typical temperature effects associated with the applied voltages on the IDTs were also investigated. Finally, a digestion reaction between a protein (hemoglobin) and an enzyme (trypsin) was performed to verify the capability of the micro-mixers. The protein-enzyme mixture was qualitatively analyzed using mass spectrometry. Using these SAW-based mixers, the amount of digested peptides increased. Additionally, the protein-enzyme mixture was also quantitatively analyzed using high-performance liquid chromatography. Experimental data showed that the amount of digested peptides increased 21.1% using the active mixer. Therefore, the developed micro-mixers can be applied in microfluidic systems for improving mixing efficiency and thus enhancing the bio-reaction.
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