Zero-power microfluidic osmotic pumps using ultra-thin PDMS membranes

Tech ID: 29134 / UC Case 2018-225-0

Brief Description

Researchers at UCI have developed a zero-energy, inexpensive micropump that uses osmotic pressure alone to draw fluid through a microfluidic device.

Full Description

Microfluidic devices have increasingly become an important component of objects ranging from inkjet printers to labs-on-a-chip due to their low energy consumption, small size, and high portability. In such devices, small volumes of fluid are contained within microchannels, and their subsequent motion through these channels is used to drive processes such as ink delivery or chemical detection. Typically, micropumps are used control the direction and speed of fluid motion throughout the device. An ideal micropump should therefore be highly stable and allow for precise control of fluid flow, in addition to retaining the small size and energy consumption that make microfluidic devices so attractive. Finally, as most microfluidic devices are fabricated from polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), these micropumps should easily integrated into such devices.

To meet these demands, researchers at UCI have recently developed a zero-energy micropump that relies solely on osmosis to pull fluid through microfluidic devices. The fluid flow rate is highly compatible with existing techniques (up to 0.1 μL/min) and easily controlled by tuning pump dimensions. Additionally, this pump is fabricated from PDMS and so is highly compatible with existing microfluidic devices.

Suggested uses

As a micropump for PDMS-based microfluidic devices, to draw fluid through the device


  • Inexpensive: The device is made from common and inexpensive materials, using standard fabrication methods.
  • Zero-energy: Fluid pumping is achieved passively, purely by osmotic pressures and requires no external actuation.
  • Stable: The fluid flow rate is well-controlled and highly stable.
  • General: The proposed pump is easily integrated into existing PDMS-based microfluidic systems.
  • Effective: Fluid flow rates (as high as 0.1 μL/min) achieved with this device are competitive with current state-of-the-art.


Patent Status

Patent Pending

State Of Development

Prototype stage>


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Other Information

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