Control of Microfluidic Devices
Burns, Mark A.
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The field of microfluidics is uniquely poised to significantly impact the biomedical sciences through the miniaturization and massive parallelization of biochemical assays. For example, future advances in microfluidics could revolutionize disease diagnosis, drug discovery, and pathogen detection. In our work, we focus on components and integrated systems that can be used in health-related biochemical analysis. Construction of such systems is currently relatively easy; there are a large number of published “lab on a chip” systems constructed from a variety of substrates using different actuation, sensing, and control components. However, there are still relatively few microfluidic diagnostic systems commercially available. Although there are many reasons, one possible explanation for this scarcity is the complex interconnect requirements of many pneumatically actuated analysis chips. In an attempt to overcome this disadvantage, we have developed microfluidic components and systems that strive to reduce the required number of pneumatic interconnects. For instance, a single pressure input can be sent to multiple temperature-regulated venturis, each of which is capable of generating a unique pressure signal. In addition to electronically controlled components, pneumatically controlled components can be used such as pneumatic logic gates and decoders. These and other components will be discussed in terms of integrated biochemical analysis systems.