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Micromachines, Volume 4, Issue 1 (March 2013), Pages 1-127

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Research

Open AccessArticle Advanced Capillary Soft Valves for Flow Control in Self-Driven Microfluidics
Micromachines 2013, 4(1), 1-8; doi:10.3390/mi4010001
Received: 27 November 2012 / Revised: 14 January 2013 / Accepted: 17 January 2013 / Published: 24 January 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (861 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Self-driven microfluidic devices enable fully autonomous handling of very small volumes of liquid samples and reagents. However, many applications require an active control mechanism to trigger self-driven flow in microchannels. Here, we report on capillary soft valves (CSVs), which enable stopping a liquid
[...] Read more.
Self-driven microfluidic devices enable fully autonomous handling of very small volumes of liquid samples and reagents. However, many applications require an active control mechanism to trigger self-driven flow in microchannels. Here, we report on capillary soft valves (CSVs), which enable stopping a liquid filling front at a precise location inside a microchannel and can resume flow of liquid upon simple actuation. The working mechanism of a CSV is based on a barrier of capillary pressure induced by an abruptly expanding microchannel. We discuss the influence of wetting conditions on the performance of a CSV and the effect of elevated temperatures on a CSV in its closed state. We introduce design features such as pillars and cavities, as well as fabrication techniques for rounded microchannels, which all may broaden the applicability and robustness of CSVs in microfluidic devices. Finally, we present CSV having multiple inlet channels. CSVs further diversify the toolbox of microfluidic functionalities and yet are simple to implement, fabricate and actuate. Full article
Open AccessArticle A Low-Cost, Normally Closed, Solenoid Valve for Non-Contact Dispensing in the Sub-µL Range
Micromachines 2013, 4(1), 9-21; doi:10.3390/mi4010009
Received: 11 December 2012 / Revised: 4 February 2013 / Accepted: 4 February 2013 / Published: 28 February 2013
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (873 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We present a disposable, normally closed, non-contact dispensing valve for the sub-µL range. The miniaturized solenoid valve (diameter: 8 mm, height: 27.25 mm) is compatible to standard Luer-Lock interfaces. A highly dynamic actuation principle enables opening times down to 1 ms. The dispensing
[...] Read more.
We present a disposable, normally closed, non-contact dispensing valve for the sub-µL range. The miniaturized solenoid valve (diameter: 8 mm, height: 27.25 mm) is compatible to standard Luer-Lock interfaces. A highly dynamic actuation principle enables opening times down to 1 ms. The dispensing performance was evaluated for water (η = 1.03 mPas) and a 66% (w/w) glycerol/water solution (η = 16.98 mPas), at pressures varying from 200 to 800 mbar. The experimentally determined minimal dispensing volume was 163 nL (CV 1.6%) for water and 123 nL (CV 4.5%) for 66% (w/w) glycerol/water. The low-cost polymer valve enables high precision dispensing of liquid volumes down to the lower end of the sub-µL range comparable to high-end non-disposable micro-dispensing valves. Full article
Figures

Open AccessArticle Compact Mass Flow Meter Based on a Micro Coriolis Flow Sensor
Micromachines 2013, 4(1), 22-33; doi:10.3390/mi4010022
Received: 17 December 2012 / Revised: 5 February 2013 / Accepted: 8 February 2013 / Published: 1 March 2013
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (787 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper we demonstrate a compact ready-to-use micro Coriolis mass flow meter. The full scale flow is 1 g/h (for water at a pressure drop < 1 bar). It has a zero stability of 2 mg/h and an accuracy of 0.5% reading
[...] Read more.
In this paper we demonstrate a compact ready-to-use micro Coriolis mass flow meter. The full scale flow is 1 g/h (for water at a pressure drop < 1 bar). It has a zero stability of 2 mg/h and an accuracy of 0.5% reading for both liquids and gases. The temperature drift between 10 and 50 °C is below 1 mg/h/°C. The meter is robust, has standard fluidic connections and can be read out by means of a PC or laptop via USB. Its performance was tested for several common gases (hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, argon and air) and liquids (water and isopropanol). As in all Coriolis mass flow meters, the meter is also able to measure the actual density of the medium flowing through the tube. The sensitivity of the measured density is ~1 Hz.m3/kg. Full article
Open AccessArticle Controllable Active Micro Droplets Merging Device Using Horizontal Pneumatic Micro Valves
Micromachines 2013, 4(1), 34-48; doi:10.3390/mi4010034
Received: 14 December 2012 / Revised: 31 January 2013 / Accepted: 8 February 2013 / Published: 8 March 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1460 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We present an active droplet merging device, which can merge various sizes of micro droplets in different numbers by using pneumatically controlled horizontal PDMS microvalves. The merging part consists of a main and side channels separated by a pillar array. The pillar array
[...] Read more.
We present an active droplet merging device, which can merge various sizes of micro droplets in different numbers by using pneumatically controlled horizontal PDMS microvalves. The merging part consists of a main and side channels separated by a pillar array. The pillar array structure is contained within a microfuidic channel. The function of the pillar array provides a bypass path to the continuous flow (oil) inside the merging chamber. Droplets are successfully generated within the channel and achieve merging by controlling the selective different numbers and diameters of droplets through varying the flow resistance of main and side channel. In the merging chamber, a droplet will enter and slow down its movement. It will wait and then merge with the sequential droplets. These experiments demonstrate that such a merging device can controllably select and adjust the distance between the different adjacent micro droplets without any generation of sister droplets in the side channel. The device has no desynchronization problems. Thus, it can be applied for efficiently mixing the droplets in various diameters and numbers without changing the structure of the merging chamber. Hence, this device can be a more effective choice when applying microfluidics to chemical and biological applications. Full article
Open AccessArticle Enhanced Liquid Metal Micro Droplet Generation by Pneumatic Actuation Based on the StarJet Method
Micromachines 2013, 4(1), 49-66; doi:10.3390/mi4010049
Received: 5 December 2012 / Revised: 4 February 2013 / Accepted: 4 February 2013 / Published: 11 March 2013
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (1978 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We present a novel pneumatic actuation system for generation of liquid metal droplets according to the so-called StarJet method. In contrast to our previous work, the performance of the device has been significantly improved: the maximum droplet generation frequency in continuous mode has
[...] Read more.
We present a novel pneumatic actuation system for generation of liquid metal droplets according to the so-called StarJet method. In contrast to our previous work, the performance of the device has been significantly improved: the maximum droplet generation frequency in continuous mode has been increased to fmax = 11 kHz (formerly fmax = 4 kHz). In addition, the droplet diameter has been reduced to 60 μm. Therefore, a new fabrication process for the silicon nozzle chips has been developed enabling the production of smaller nozzle chips with higher surface quality. The size of the metal reservoir has been increased to hold up to 22 mL liquid metal and the performance and durability of the actuator has been improved by using stainless steel and a second pneumatic connection to control the sheath flow. Experimental results are presented regarding the characterization of the droplet generation, as well as printed metal structures. Full article
Open AccessArticle Effects of Micromachining Processes on Electro-Osmotic Flow Mobility of Glass Surfaces
Micromachines 2013, 4(1), 67-79; doi:10.3390/mi4010067
Received: 4 January 2013 / Revised: 16 February 2013 / Accepted: 20 February 2013 / Published: 13 March 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (497 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Silica glass is frequently used as a device material for micro/nano fluidic devices due to its excellent properties, such as transparency and chemical resistance. Wet etching by hydrofluoric acid and dry etching by neutral loop discharge (NLD) plasma etching are currently used to
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Silica glass is frequently used as a device material for micro/nano fluidic devices due to its excellent properties, such as transparency and chemical resistance. Wet etching by hydrofluoric acid and dry etching by neutral loop discharge (NLD) plasma etching are currently used to micromachine glass to form micro/nano fluidic channels. Electro-osmotic flow (EOF) is one of the most effective methods to drive liquids into the channels. EOF mobility is affected by a property of the micromachined glass surfaces, which includes surface roughness that is determined by the manufacturing processes. In this paper, we investigate the effect of micromaching processes on the glass surface topography and the EOF mobility. We prepared glass surfaces by either wet etching or by NLD plasma etching, investigated the surface topography using atomic force microscopy, and attempted to correlate it with EOF generated in the micro-channels of the machined glass. Experiments revealed that the EOF mobility strongly depends on the surface roughness, and therefore upon the fabrication process used. A particularly strong dependency was observed when the surface roughness was on the order of the electric double layer thickness or below. We believe that the correlation described in this paper can be of great help in the design of micro/nano fluidic devices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Glass Micromachining and Applications of Glass)
Open AccessArticle Active Continuous-Flow Micromixer Using an External Braille Pin Actuator Array
Micromachines 2013, 4(1), 80-89; doi:10.3390/mi4010080
Received: 17 December 2012 / Revised: 11 February 2013 / Accepted: 1 March 2013 / Published: 14 March 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (826 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We present a continuous-flow active micromixer based on channel-wall deflection in a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) chip for volume flows in the range up to 2 μL s−1 which is intended as a novel unit operation for the microfluidic Braille pin actuated platform. The chip
[...] Read more.
We present a continuous-flow active micromixer based on channel-wall deflection in a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) chip for volume flows in the range up to 2 μL s−1 which is intended as a novel unit operation for the microfluidic Braille pin actuated platform. The chip design comprises a main microchannel connected to a series of side channels with dead ends aligned on the Braille pins. Computer-controlled deflection of the side-channel walls induces chaotic advection in the main-channel, which substantially accelerates mixing in low-Reynolds number flow. Sufficient mixing (mixing index MI below 0.1) of volume flows up to 0.5 μL s−1 could be achieved within residence times ~500 ms in the micromixer. As an application, continuous dilution of a yeast cell sample by a ratio down to 1:10 was successfully demonstrated. The mixer is intended to serve as a component of bio-analytical devices or as a unit operation in the microfluidic Braille pin actuated platform. Full article
Figures

Open AccessArticle Molecular Surveillance of Viral Processes Using Silicon Nitride Membranes
Micromachines 2013, 4(1), 90-102; doi:10.3390/mi4010090
Received: 5 November 2012 / Revised: 18 December 2012 / Accepted: 5 March 2013 / Published: 14 March 2013
PDF Full-text (1227 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Here we present new applications for silicon nitride (SiN) membranes to evaluate biological processes. We determined that 50-nanometer thin films of SiN produced from silicon wafers were sufficiently durable to bind active rotavirus assemblies. A direct comparison of SiN microchips with conventional carbon
[...] Read more.
Here we present new applications for silicon nitride (SiN) membranes to evaluate biological processes. We determined that 50-nanometer thin films of SiN produced from silicon wafers were sufficiently durable to bind active rotavirus assemblies. A direct comparison of SiN microchips with conventional carbon support films indicated that SiN performs equivalent to the traditional substrate to prepare samples for Electron Microscopy (EM) imaging. Likewise, SiN films coated with Ni-NTA affinity layers concentrated rotavirus particles similarly to affinity-coated carbon films. However, affinity-coated SiN membranes outperformed glow-discharged conventional carbon films 5-fold as indicated by the number of viral particles quantified in EM images. In addition, we were able to recapitulate viral uncoating and transcription mechanisms directed onto the microchip surfaces. EM images of these processes revealed the production of RNA transcripts emerging from active rotavirus complexes. These results were confirmed by the functional incorporation of radiolabeled nucleotides into the nascent RNA transcripts. Collectively, we demonstrate new uses for SiN membranes to perform molecular surveillance on life processes in real-time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micromachined Tools for Nanoscale Science and Technology)
Figures

Open AccessArticle Microbeads for Sampling and Mixing in a Complex Sample
Micromachines 2013, 4(1), 103-115; doi:10.3390/mi4010103
Received: 21 January 2013 / Revised: 4 March 2013 / Accepted: 5 March 2013 / Published: 19 March 2013
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (668 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper presents work on the development of a microfluidic device using super-paramagnetic beads for sampling and mixing. The beads are manipulated via an external rotating permanent magnet in a microfluidic channel. Efficient mixing is achieved in a short distance with this method.
[...] Read more.
This paper presents work on the development of a microfluidic device using super-paramagnetic beads for sampling and mixing. The beads are manipulated via an external rotating permanent magnet in a microfluidic channel. Efficient mixing is achieved in a short distance with this method. Modeling shows the variables which influence the mixing are flow rate, bead rotation speed and the bead number density. Displacement of the bead relative the rotating magnetic field sets an upper limit on the bead rotation speed due to viscous drag. Future work will examine optimization of this system for capture of pathogens from a complex mixture. Full article
Open AccessArticle Tunable Sensor Response by Voltage-Control in Biomimetic Hair Flow Sensors
Micromachines 2013, 4(1), 116-127; doi:10.3390/mi4010116
Received: 13 December 2012 / Revised: 7 March 2013 / Accepted: 8 March 2013 / Published: 19 March 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (687 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We presented an overview of improvements in detection limit and responsivity of our biomimetic hair flow sensors by electrostatic spring-softening (ESS). Applying a DC-bias voltage to our capacitive flow sensors improves the responsively by up to 80% for flow signals at frequencies below
[...] Read more.
We presented an overview of improvements in detection limit and responsivity of our biomimetic hair flow sensors by electrostatic spring-softening (ESS). Applying a DC-bias voltage to our capacitive flow sensors improves the responsively by up to 80% for flow signals at frequencies below the sensor’s resonance. Application of frequency matched AC-bias voltages allows for tunable filtering and selective gain up to 20 dB. Furthermore, the quality and fidelity of low frequency flow measurements can be improved using a non frequency-matched AC-bias voltage, resulting in a flow detection limit down to 5 mm/s at low (30 Hz) frequencies. The merits and applicability of the three methods are discussed. Full article

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