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Micromachines 2013, 4(1), 1-8; doi:10.3390/mi4010001

Advanced Capillary Soft Valves for Flow Control in Self-Driven Microfluidics

IBM Research-Zurich, Säumerstrasse 4, 8803 Rüschlikon, Switzerland
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 November 2012 / Revised: 14 January 2013 / Accepted: 17 January 2013 / Published: 24 January 2013
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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.
Keywords: microfluidics; capillary system; stop valve; liquid control microfluidics; capillary system; stop valve; liquid control
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Hitzbleck, M.; Delamarche, E. Advanced Capillary Soft Valves for Flow Control in Self-Driven Microfluidics. Micromachines 2013, 4, 1-8.

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