An Open-Source, Programmable Pneumatic Setup for Operation and Automated Control of Single- and Multi-Layer Microfluidic Devices.
ABSTRACT: Microfluidic technologies have been used across diverse disciplines (e.g. high-throughput biological measurement, fluid physics, laboratory fluid manipulation) but widespread adoption has been limited in part due to the lack of openly disseminated resources that enable non-specialist labs to make and operate their own devices. Here, we report the open-source build of a pneumatic setup capable of operating both single and multilayer (Quake-style) microfluidic devices with programmable scripting automation. This setup can operate both simple and complex devices with 48 device valve control inputs and 18 sample inputs, with modular design for easy expansion, at a fraction of the cost of similar commercial solutions. We present a detailed step-by-step guide to building the pneumatic instrumentation, as well as instructions for custom device operation using our software, Geppetto, through an easy-to-use GUI for live on-chip valve actuation and a scripting system for experiment automation. We show robust valve actuation with near real-time software feedback and demonstrate use of the setup for high-throughput biochemical measurements on-chip. This open-source setup will enable specialists and novices alike to run microfluidic devices easily in their own laboratories.
Project description:We report a new flow control method for centrifugal microfluidic systems; CO? is released from on-board stored baking powder upon contact with an ancillary liquid. The elevated pressure generated drives the sample into a dead-end pneumatic chamber sealed by a dissolvable film (DF). This liquid incursion wets and dissolves the DF, thus opening the valve. The activation pressure of the DF valve can be tuned by the geometry of the channel upstream of the DF membrane. Through pneumatic coupling with properly dimensioned disc architecture, we established serial cascading of valves, even at a constant spin rate. Similarly, we demonstrate sequential actuation of valves by dividing the disc into a number of distinct pneumatic chambers (separated by DF membranes). Opening these DFs, typically through arrival of a liquid to that location on a disc, permits pressurization of these chambers. This barrier-based scheme provides robust and strictly ordered valve actuation, which is demonstrated by the automation of a multi-step/multi-reagent DNA-based hybridization assay.
Project description:Failure to utilize valving and automation techniques has restricted the complexity of fluidic operations that can be performed in paper microfluidic devices. We developed a toolkit of paper microfluidic valves and methods for automatic valve actuation using movable paper strips and fluid-triggered expanding elements. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first functional demonstration of this valving strategy in paper microfluidics. After introduction of fluids on devices, valves can actuate automatically after a) a certain period of time, or b) the passage of a certain volume of fluid. Timing of valve actuation can be tuned with greater than 8.5% accuracy by changing lengths of timing wicks, and we present timed on-valves, off-valves, and diversion (channel-switching) valves. The actuators require ~30 ?l fluid to actuate and the time required to switch from one state to another ranges from ~5 s for short to ~50 s for longer wicks. For volume-metered actuation, the size of a metering pad can be adjusted to tune actuation volume, and we present two methods - both methods can achieve greater than 9% accuracy. Finally, we demonstrate the use of these valves in a device that conducts a multi-step assay for the detection of the malaria protein PfHRP2. Although slightly more complex than devices that do not have moving parts, this valving and automation toolkit considerably expands the capabilities of paper microfluidic devices. Components of this toolkit can be used to conduct arbitrarily complex, multi-step fluidic operations on paper-based devices, as demonstrated in the malaria assay device.
Project description:The design of microfluidic Lab on a Chip (LoC) systems is an onerous task requiring specialized skills in fluid dynamics, mechanical design drafting, and manufacturing. Engineers face significant challenges during the labor-intensive process of designing microfluidic devices, with very few specialized tools that help automate the process. Typical design iterations require the engineer to research the architecture, manually draft the device layout, optimize for manufacturing processes, and manually calculate and program the valve sequences that operate the microfluidic device. The problem compounds when engineers not only have to test the functionality of the chip but are also expected to optimize them for the robust execution of biological assays. In this paper, we present an interactive tool for designing continuous flow microfluidic devices. 3D?F is the first completely open source interactive microfluidic system designer that readily supports state of the art design automation algorithms. Through various case studies, we show 3D?F can be used to reproduce designs from literature, provide metrics for evaluating microfluidic design complexity and showcase how 3D?F is a platform for integrating a wide assortment of engineering techniques used in the design of microfluidic devices as a part of the standard design workflow.
Project description:Based on the Euler force induced by the acceleration of compact disk (CD)-like microfluidic chip, this paper presents a novel actuation mechanism for siphon valving. At the preliminary stage of acceleration, the Euler force in the tangential direction of CD-like chip takes the primary place compared with the centrifugal force to function as the actuation of the flow, which fills the siphon and actuates the siphon valving. The Euler force actuation mechanism is demonstrated by the numerical solution of the phase-field based mathematical model for the flow in siphon valve. In addition, experimental validation is implemented in the polymethylmethacrylate-based CD-like microfluidic chip manufactured using CO2 laser engraving technique. To prove the application of the proposed Euler force actuation mechanism, whole blood separation and plasma extraction has been conducted using the Euler force actuated siphon valving. The newly introduced actuation mechanism overcomes the dependence on hydrophilic capillary filling of siphon by avoiding external manipulation or surface treatments of polymeric material. The sacrifice for highly integrated processing in pneumatic pumping technique is also prevented by excluding the volume-occupied compressed air chamber.
Project description:Although soft devices (grippers, actuators, and elementary robots) are rapidly becoming an integral part of the broad field of robotics, autonomy for completely soft devices has only begun to be developed. Adaptation of conventional systems of control to soft devices requires hard valves and electronic controls. This paper describes completely soft pneumatic digital logic gates having a physical scale appropriate for use with current (macroscopic) soft actuators. Each digital logic gate utilizes a single bistable valve-the pneumatic equivalent of a Schmitt trigger-which relies on the snap-through instability of a hemispherical membrane to kink internal tubes and operates with binary high/low input and output pressures. Soft, pneumatic NOT, AND, and OR digital logic gates-which generate known pneumatic outputs as a function of one, or multiple, pneumatic inputs-allow fabrication of digital logic circuits for a set-reset latch, two-bit shift register, leading-edge detector, digital-to-analog converter (DAC), and toggle switch. The DAC and toggle switch, in turn, can control and power a soft actuator (demonstrated using a pneu-net gripper). These macroscale soft digital logic gates are scalable to high volumes of airflow, do not consume power at steady state, and can be reconfigured to achieve multiple functionalities from a single design (including configurations that receive inputs from the environment and from human users). This work represents a step toward a strategy to develop autonomous control-one not involving an electronic interface or hard components-for soft devices.
Project description:Mixing of liquids to produce solutions with different concentrations is one of the basic functionalities of microfluidic devices. Generation of specific temporal patterns of concentration in microfluidic devices is an important technique to study responses of cells and model organisms to variations in the chemical composition of their environment. Here, we present a simple microfluidic network that linearly converts pressure at an inlet into concentration of a soluble reagent in an observation region and also enables independent concurrent linear control of concentrations of two reagents. The microfluidic device has an integrated mixer channel with chaotic three-dimensional flow that facilitates rapid switching of concentrations in a continuous range. A simple pneumatic setup generating linear ramps of pressure is used to produce smooth linear ramps and triangular waves of concentration with different slopes. The use of chaotic vs. laminar mixers is discussed in the context of microfluidic devices providing rapid switching and generating temporal waves of concentration.
Project description:Bistable microvalves are of particular interest because of their distinct nature of requiring energy consumption only during the transition between the open and closed states. This characteristic can be highly advantageous in reducing the number of external inputs and the complexity of control circuitries since microfluidic devices as contemporary lab-on-a-chip platforms are transferring from research settings to low-resource environments with high integrability and a small form factor. In this paper, we first present manually operatable, on-chip bistable pneumatic microstructures (BPMs) for microfluidic manipulation. The structural design and operation of the BPM devices can be readily integrated into any pneumatically powered microfluidic network consisting of pneumatic and fluidic channels. It is mainly composed of a vacuum activation chamber (VAC) and a pressure release chamber (PRC), of which users have direct control through finger pressing to switch either to the bistable vacuum state (VS) or the atmospheric state (AS). We have integrated multiple BPM devices into a 4-to-1 microfluidic multiplexor to demonstrate on-chip digital flow switching from different sources. Furthermore, we have shown its clinical relevance in a point-of-care diagnostic chip that processes blood samples to identify the distinct blood types (A/B/O) on-chip.
Project description:Check valves are often essential components in microfluidic devices, enabling automated sample processing for diagnostics at the point of care. However, there is an unmet need for a check valve design that is compatible with rigid thermoplastic devices during all stages of development-from initial prototyping with a laser cutter to final production with injection molding. Here, we present simple designs for a passive, normally closed check valve that is manufactured from commonly available materials with a CO2 laser and readily integrated into prototype and production thermoplastic devices. The check valve consists of a thermoplastic planar spring and a soft elastomeric pad that act together to seal against fluid backflow. The valve's cracking pressure can be tuned by modifying the spring's planar geometry and thickness. Seal integrity is improved with the addition of a raised annular boss beneath the elastomeric pad. To demonstrate the valve's usefulness, we employ these valves to create a finger-operated on-chip reagent reservoir and a finger-actuated pneumatic pump. We also apply this check valve to passively seal a device to enable portable detection of RNA from West Nile virus in a laser-cut device.
Project description:Microfluidic hanging-drop networks enable culturing and analysis of 3D microtissue spheroids derived from different cell types under controlled perfusion and investigating inter-tissue communication in multi-tissue formats. In this paper we introduce a compact on-chip pumping approach for flow control in hanging-drop networks. The pump includes one pneumatic chamber located directly above one of the hanging drops and uses the surface tension at the liquid-air-interface for flow actuation. Control of the pneumatic protocol provides a wide range of unidirectional pulsatile and continuous flow profiles. With the proposed concept several independent hanging-drop networks can be operated in parallel with only one single pneumatic actuation line at high fidelity. Closed-loop medium circulation between different organ models for multi-tissue formats and multiple simultaneous assays in parallel are possible. Finally, we implemented a real-time feedback control-loop of the pump actuation based on the beating of a human iPS-derived cardiac microtissue cultured in the same system. This configuration allows for simulating physiological effects on the heart and their impact on flow circulation between the organ models on chip.
Project description:Analysis of mammalian cell responses to digital microfluidic manipulation. BA/F3 cells were manipulated on devices with 15 min continuous actuation at 400Vpp at 1 kHz or 18 kHz and compared to untreated control cells and cells heat shocked at 42C, 47C or 52C. Total RNA isolated from Ba/F3 murine cells, untreated or exposed to digital microfludic manipulation or heat shock.