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Issue 3, 2012
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Bubbles no more: in-plane trapping and removal of bubbles in microfluidic devices

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Abstract

Gas bubbles present a frequent challenge to the on-chip investigation and culture of biological cells and small organs. The presence of a single bubble can adversely impair biological function and often viability as it increases the wall shear stress in a liquid-perfused microchannel by at least one order of magnitude. We present a microfluidic strategy for in-plane trapping and removal of gas bubbles with volumes of 0.1–500 nL. The presented bubble trap is compatible with single-layer soft lithography and requires a footprint of less than ten square millimetres. Nitrogen bubbles were consistently removed at a rate of 0.14 μL min−1. Experiments were complemented with analytical and numerical models to comprehensively characterize bubble removal for liquids with different wetting behaviour. Consistent long-term operation of the bubble trap was demonstrated by removing approximately 4000 bubbles during one day. In a case study, we successfully applied the bubble trap to the on-chip investigation of intact small blood vessels. Scalability of the design was demonstrated by realizing eight parallel traps at a total removal rate of 0.9 μL min−1 (measured for nitrogen).

Graphical abstract: Bubbles no more: in-plane trapping and removal of bubbles in microfluidic devices

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Publication details

The article was received on 29 Aug 2011, accepted on 31 Oct 2011 and first published on 13 Dec 2011


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C1LC20817A
Citation: Lab Chip, 2012,12, 595-601
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    Bubbles no more: in-plane trapping and removal of bubbles in microfluidic devices

    C. Lochovsky, S. Yasotharan and A. Günther, Lab Chip, 2012, 12, 595
    DOI: 10.1039/C1LC20817A

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