Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Physics and Astronomy

Committee Chair

Boyd Edwards.


Traveling-wave electrophoresis, a technique for microfluidic separations in lab-on-achip devices, is investigated using a trigonometric model that naturally incorporates the spatial periodicity of the device. Traveling-wave electrophoresis can be used to separate high-mobility ions from low-mobility ions in forensic and medical applications, with a separation threshold that can be tuned for specific applications by simply choosing the traveling wave frequency. Our simulations predict plateaus in the average ion velocity verses the mobility, plateaus that correspond to Farey fractions and yield Devil's staircases for non-zero discreteness values. The plateaus indicate that ions with different mobilities can travel with the same average velocity. To determine the conditions for chaos, Lyapunov exponents and contact maps are employed. Through the use of contact maps, the chaotic trajectories are determined to be either narrowband or broadband. Narrowband chaotic trajectories are exhibited in the plateaus of the average velocity, while broadband chaotic trajectories are exhibited where the average velocity varies nonmonotonically with the mobility. Narrowband chaos will be investigated in future work incorporating the role of diffusion. The results of this and future work can be used to develop new tools for electrophoretic separation.