As interest in and potential uses for microfluidic and optofluidic analytical techniques grows, the need for on-chip, automated sample processing becomes increasingly important because this aspect is critical to allowing the devices to be commercially feasible and practical. One such design that implements on-chip processing is using ionic electroactive polymer (IEAP) actuators to perform mixing of particles in the microchannel and using a single magnet positioned beneath the channel to trap the magnetic beads. IEAP actuators consist of a central ionic membrane with conductive network composite (CNC) layers on either side. Gold electrodes placed on the outside of CNC layers are connected to a metal anode and cathode. When subjected to an electric field, the ions in the actuator move, electromechanically causing the entire length of the actuator to flex [1]. Although most actuators to date have been developed for use in air rather than in solutions, we have adapted previously developed actuators by optimizing their electromechanical functions to suit our needs and coating them in a protective film. The actuators are embedded in a microchannel in different configurations, which are then tested to determine which configuration most effectively trapped, mixed, and released the magnetic beads. The most effective configuration will subsequently be used to perform automated sample processing for an assay.

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