Magnetically actuated micropumps

"Lab-On-a-Chip" (LOC) systems are intended to transpose complete laboratory instrumentations on the few square centimetres of a single microfluidic chip. With such devices the objective is to minimize the time and cost associated with routine biological analysis while improving reproducibility. At the heart of these systems, a fluid delivery unit controls and transfers tiny quantities of liquids enabling the biological assays. This explains the need for robust integrated micropumps as a precondition for the development of many LOC devices. In this context, we have developed a rapid prototyping method for the fabrication of microfluidic chips in plastic and glass materials. The microfabrication principle, which is based on the powder blasting microstructuring process, was used to build devices in either polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) or borosilicate glass. Various types of micropumps have been developed which were all based on external magnetic actuation. The use of ferrofluids (or magnetic liquids) has been the subject of the first part of the research. A piston pump using a ferrofluid plug moved by an external magnet has been studied. The integration of a rare-earth material (NdFeB) in a flexible polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) membrane, in the form of a powder or as a classical permanent magnet, has then been proposed. An external electromagnet was used to actuate the magnet-containing diaphragm of a reciprocating micropump. Different types of valves, which constitute the critical element in reciprocating micropumps, have also been investigated. We have studied silicone membrane valves, nozzle-diffuser elements and ball valves. While nozzle-diffuser elements present the simplest valving solution from a manufacturing point of view, ball valves have been proposed as a very promising alternative due to their high efficiency. Together with the detailed characterization of the prototypes, we have proposed analytical models that predict the hydrodynamic behaviour of the micropumps. The performances of our micropumps indicate that magnetic actuation is well adapted for LOC microsystems. While we have demonstrated that our proposed microfabrication technique is an excellent rapid prototyping method for disposable plastic devices, our glass micropumps present a competitive low-cost alternative satisfying criteria of biocompatibility and high temperature (130 °C) resistance.

Gijs, Martin
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis3208-0

 Record created 2005-03-16, last modified 2018-01-27

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