Thermal Characterization and Analysis of Microliter Liquid Volumes using the Three-Omega Method

Roy-Panzer, S., Kodama, T., Lingamneni, S., Panzer, M. A., Asheghi, M., Goodson, K.E., 2015, "Thermal Characterization and Analysis of Microliter Liquid Volumes using the Three-Omega Method," Review of Scientific Instruments (Featured Article, Cover Image), 86, 024901.

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Thermal phenomena in many biological systems offer an alternative detection opportunity for quantifying relevant sample properties. While there is substantial prior work on thermal characterization methods for fluids, the push in the biology and biomedical research communities towards analysis of reduced sample volumes drives a need to extend and scale these techniques to these volumes of interest, which can be below 100pL. This work applies the 3ω technique to measure the temperature-dependent thermal conductivity and heat capacity of de-ionized water, silicone oil, and salt buffer solution droplets from 24-80°C. Heater geometries range in length from 200-700µm and in width from 2-5µm to accommodate the size restrictions imposed by small volume droplets. We use these devices to measure droplet volumes of 2µL and demonstrate the potential to extend this technique down to pL droplet volumes based on an analysis of the thermally probed volume. Sensitivity and uncertainty analyses provide guidance for relevant design variables for characterizing properties of interest by investigating the tradeoffs between measurement frequency regime, device geometry, and substrate material. Experimental results show that we can extract thermal conductivity and heat capacity with these sample volumes to within less than 1% of thermal properties reported in the literature.

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