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Issue 21, 2013
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Capillarics: pre-programmed, self-powered microfluidic circuits built from capillary elements

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Abstract

Microfluidic capillary systems employ surface tension effects to manipulate liquids, and are thus self-powered and self-regulated as liquid handling is structurally and chemically encoded in microscale conduits. However, capillary systems have been limited to perform simple fluidic operations. Here, we introduce complex capillary flow circuits that encode sequential flow of multiple liquids with distinct flow rates and flow reversal. We first introduce two novel microfluidic capillary elements including (i) retention burst valves and (ii) robust low aspect ratio trigger valves. These elements are combined with flow resistors, capillary retention valves, capillary pumps, and open and closed reservoirs to build a capillary circuit that, following sample addition, autonomously delivers a defined sequence of multiple chemicals according to a preprogrammed and predetermined flow rate and time. Such a circuit was used to measure the concentration of C-reactive protein. This work illustrates that as in electronics, complex capillary circuits may be built by combining simple capillary elements. We define such circuits as “capillarics”, and introduce symbolic representations. We believe that more complex circuits will become possible by expanding the library of building elements and formulating abstract design rules.

Graphical abstract: Capillarics: pre-programmed, self-powered microfluidic circuits built from capillary elements

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Publication details

The article was received on 08 Jun 2013, accepted on 31 Jul 2013 and first published on 01 Aug 2013


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C3LC50691F
Citation: Lab Chip, 2013,13, 4180-4189
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    Capillarics: pre-programmed, self-powered microfluidic circuits built from capillary elements

    R. Safavieh and D. Juncker, Lab Chip, 2013, 13, 4180
    DOI: 10.1039/C3LC50691F

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