This paper presents a polymer-based micropump addressing the cost, performance, and system compatibility issues that have limited the integration of on-chip micropumps into microanalysis systems. This pump uses dielectric elastomer actuation to periodically displace fluid, and a pair of elastomeric check valves to rectify the fluid's resulting movement. Its significant features include the use of a transparent substrate, self-priming capability, insensitivity to gas bubbles, and the ability to admit particles. A pump occupying less than 10 mm2 of chip space produced a 77 µl min−1 flow rate. The pump has a high thermodynamic efficiency and exhibits little performance degradation over 10 hours of operation. In addition to its notable performance, the pump can be fabricated at low cost and directly integrated into microfluidic chips that use planar softlithography-formed structures. The new pump concept, fabrication, and experimental performance are discussed herein.
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