A "place n play" modular pump for portable microfluidic applications

Biomicrofluidics. 2012 Mar;6(1):14118-1411816. doi: 10.1063/1.3692770. Epub 2012 Mar 9.

Abstract

This paper presents an easy-to-use, power-free, and modular pump for portable microfluidic applications. The pump module is a degassed particle desorption polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) slab with an integrated mesh-shaped chamber, which can be attached on the outlet port of microfluidic device to absorb the air in the microfluidic system and then to create a negative pressure for driving fluid. Different from the existing monolithic degassed PDMS pumps that are generally restricted to limited pumping capacity and are only compatible with PDMS-based microfluidic devices, this pump can offer various possible configures of pumping power by varying the geometries of the pump or by combining different pump modules and can also be employed in any material microfluidic devices. The key advantage of this pump is that its operation only requires the user to place the degassed PDMS slab on the outlet ports of microfluidic devices. To help design pumps with a suitable pumping performance, the effect of pump module geometry on its pumping capacity is also investigated. The results indicate that the performance of the degassed PDMS pump is strongly dependent on the surface area of the pump chamber, the exposure area and the volume of the PDMS pump slab. In addition, the initial volume of air in the closed microfluidic system and the cross-linking degree of PDMS also affect the performance of the degassed PDMS pump. Finally, we demonstrated the utility of this modular pumping method by applying it to a glass-based microfluidic device and a PDMS-based protein crystallization microfluidic device.