Infoscience

Thesis

Rapid Prototyping of Microfluidic Devices: Realization of Magnetic Micropumps, Fuel Cells and Protein Preconcentrators

With the growing importance of miniaturized energy applications and the development of micro Total Analysis Systems (μTAS), we have realized microfluidic devices, namely, magnetic micropumps, microfluidic fuel cells and membrane-based protein preconcentrators, all having high application potential in future. The choice of rapid prototyping microfabrication technologies and the selection of affordable materials are important aspects, when thinking of commercialization. Thus, we have employed powder blasting, polymer molding and assembly technologies during devices fabrication throughout the thesis. The first type of microfluidic device that we present is a poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) ball-valve micropump with two different designs of the electromagnetic actuator, as optimized by the finite element method. The integration of a permanent magnet in a flexible polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) membrane, which is clamped into PMMA structure, is proposed for providing a large stroke of the pumping membrane, making the micropump bubble-tolerant and self-priming Focusing on low power consumption for μTAS integration, another type of magnetic micropump with active valves is realized. It consists of a microfluidic chamber structure in glass that is assembled with a PDMS sheet, which comprises two valving membranes and a central actuation membrane, having each an integrated permanent magnet that is peristaltically actuated by a rotating arc-shaped permanent magnets assembly. A lumped circuit model is developed to predict and describe the frequency-dependent flow rate behavior for this type of pump. Powder blasting and PDMS molding rapid prototyping technologies are employed for realization of these two types of micropumps. Fuel cells with fluid delivery and removal options, having chemical reaction sites and electrode structures that can be realized in a microfluidic format, have high potential for applications. Therefore, microfluidic direct methanol fuel cells with embedded ion- permselective medium are studied and such type of fuel cell is realized by integrating a narrow Nafion strip in a molded elastomeric structure. A mechanical clamping assembly technology enables leakage-free operation and stable performance. The characterization reveals its output power density, using H2O2-based oxidant, is among the high-performance direct methanol fuel cells in microscale. Re-using the technology of the fuel cell chip, with its particular ion-permselective Nafion membrane and assembly method, we also have developed a protein preconcentrator with high purification performance. Our device can preconcentrate negatively charged biomolecules located at the anodic compartment side of the Nafion strip within only a few minutes with a high preconcentration factor. Moreover, a complex microfluidic finite element model is proposed to study and understand the physics of the preconcentration effect. Finally, we conclude the thesis with an outlook on future developments based on our work of the project and on the assembly technologies for microfluidic device integration.

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