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Gasless and gas bubble-free electrodes

United States Patent Application

View the Complete Application at the US Patent & Trademark Office
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Gas bubble-free electrodes are necessary for stable long-term operation of millimeter-scale electrokinetic (EK) pumps when currents exceed 10-50 .mu.A. An accompanying Technical Advance describes EK pumps that draw 1-3 mA. We have developed gasless and gas bubble-free electrodes that can run millimeter-scale (and smaller) EK pumps continuously at high current densities. Two types of gasless electrodes based on porous carbon and ruthenium/tantalum-on-titanium oxides have been developed that are supercapacitors which store ions from a fluid electrolyte. The gas bubble-free electrodes isolate gas generated by water electrolysis of the pump fluid from the fluid channels by means of an electrically-conductive polymer. Nafion.RTM. tubing is a cationic-selective polymer that is used to pass currents and water for electrolysis at titanium and platinum surfaces. The gas bubble-free electrodes are easy to fabricate and can operate well even with typical, low-conductivity electrolytes. The gas bubble-free cathode seals to 1500 psi for high-pressure microhydraulic actuation
Mosier, Bruce P. (San Francisco, CA), Crocker, Robert W. (Fremont, CA)
10/ 848,196
May 17, 2004
[0001] This invention was made with Government support under government contract no. DE-AC04-94AL85000 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to Sandia Corporation. The Government has certain rights in the invention, including a paid-up license and the right, in limited circumstances, to require the owner of any patent issuing in this invention to license others on reasonable terms.