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