Off-campus Michigan Tech users: To download campus access theses or dissertations, please use the following button to log in with your Michigan Tech ID and password: log in to proxy server

Non-Michigan Tech users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this thesis or dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Adrienne R Minerick


Finite numbers of ions are present in microfluidic devices. This leads to ion limiting effects in microfluidic channels and electrode surfaces. These effects include electrode surface changes and ion concentration gradient formation across microfluidic channels, and can influence microfluidic device behavior. A literature survey on the use of electrochemical analysis techniques in micro- and nanofluidic devices was carried out, which puts into perspective the importance of electrode surface changes with regards to analytical microfluidic applications. Surface changes in Pt wire electrodes under various physiological buffer and electric field conditions were investigated using cyclic voltammetry (CV), SEM-EDS and XPS. Effects of surface changes on electrochemical analysis performance of Pt wire and thin film electrodes were investigated. Electrode surfaces were subjected to varying phosphate buffer and electric field conditions, and their CV performance was monitored. Electrode surfaces were also studied with SEM-EDS. Two studies of ion concentration gradient formation in microfluidic channels were conducted. In the first, concentration gradients of H+ and OH- ions generated on electrode surfaces were found to cause significant pH decreases in certain buffer and electric field conditions, which was also found to play a key role in iDEP manipulation of proteins. The role of electrode surface reactions in this case shows the importance of understanding electrode surface changes in microfluidic devices. In the second study of ion concentration gradient formation, Cl- ion concentration gradient formation was attempted to be quantified upon electric field application across a KCl solution. Electrokinetic transport of the Cl- indicating fluorophore MQAE contributed significantly to the fluorescence microscopy signals collected, complicating Cl- quantification as a function of position and time. It was shown that a dielectric coating on electrode surfaces is effective at preventing MQAE electrokinetic transport.