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Issue 3, 2008
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A light writable microfluidic “flash memory”: Optically addressed actuator array with latched operation for microfluidic applications

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Abstract

This paper presents a novel optically addressed microactuator array (microfluidic “flash memory”) with latched operation. Analogous to the address-data bus mediated memory address protocol in electronics, the microactuator array consists of individual phase-change based actuators addressed by localized heating through focused light patterns (address bus), which can be provided by a modified projector or high power laser pointer. A common pressure manifold (data bus) for the entire array is used to generate large deflections of the phase change actuators in the molten phase. The use of phase change material as the working media enables latched operation of the actuator array. After the initial light “writing” during which the phase is temporarily changed to molten, the actuated status is self-maintained by the solid phase of the actuator without power and pressure inputs. The microfluidic flash memory can be re-configured by a new light illumination pattern and common pressure signal. The proposed approach can achieve actuation of arbitrary units in a large-scale array without the need for complex external equipment such as solenoid valves and electrical modules, which leads to significantly simplified system implementation and compact system size. The proposed work therefore provides a flexible, energy-efficient, and low cost multiplexing solution for microfluidic applications based on physical displacements. As an example, the use of the latched microactuator array as “normally closed” or “normally open” microvalves is demonstrated. The phase-change wax is fully encapsulated and thus immune from contamination issues in fluidic environments.

Graphical abstract: A light writable microfluidic “flash memory”: Optically addressed actuator array with latched operation for microfluidic applications

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Publication details

The article was received on 23 Aug 2007, accepted on 14 Dec 2007 and first published on 14 Jan 2008


Article type: Technical Note
DOI: 10.1039/B712983A
Citation: Lab Chip, 2008,8, 488-491
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    A light writable microfluidic “flash memory”: Optically addressed actuator array with latched operation for microfluidic applications

    Z. Hua, R. Pal, O. Srivannavit, M. A. Burns and E. Gulari, Lab Chip, 2008, 8, 488
    DOI: 10.1039/B712983A

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