Characterization of a microscale thermal-electrical field-flow fractionation system.
ABSTRACT A microscale thermal-electrical field-flow fractionation (ThElFFF) channel is reported for the first time and preliminary characterization results show high retention at certain operating conditions including relatively high flow rates when compared to standard microscale electrical or thermal field-flow fractionation instruments. A new design is presented that simplifies manufacturing and assembly of the prototype and that can provide both an electrical field and a high temperature gradient (∼10⁶ °C/m). Monodisperse particle retention is carried out with polystyrene nanoparticle samples to characterize the device. Retention ratios as low as 0.045 are observed with the ThElFFF instrument. Size selectivity of 1.77 was achieved for ThElFFF. The comparison with theory shows a marked deviation from the existing theory. Separation of a mixture of polystyrene particles is demonstrated for the first time using a ThElFFF system by separating 130 nm carboxylated polystyrene and 209 nm polystyrene particles.