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Issue 9, 2011
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A membrane-based, high-efficiency, microfluidic debubbler

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In many lab-on-chip applications, it is necessary to remove bubbles from the flow stream. Existing bubble removal strategies have various drawbacks such as low degassing efficiency, long degassing time, large dead volumes, sensitivity to surfactants, and the need for an external vacuum or pressure source. We report on a novel, simple, robust, passive, nozzle-type, membrane-based debubbler that can be readily incorporated into microfluidic devices for rapid degassing. The debubbler is particularly suitable to operate with microfluidic systems made with plastic. The debubbler consists of a hydrophobic, porous membrane that resembles a normally closed valve, which is forced open by the working fluid's pressure. To illustrate the operation of the debubbler, we describe its use in the context of a chip containing a bead array for immunoassays. Our debubbler was able to completely filter gas bubbles out of a segmented flow at rates up to 60 µl s−1 mm−2 of membrane area.

Graphical abstract: A membrane-based, high-efficiency, microfluidic debubbler

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The article was received on 01 Feb 2011, accepted on 03 Mar 2011 and first published on 28 Mar 2011

Article type: Technical Note
DOI: 10.1039/C1LC20089E
Citation: Lab Chip, 2011,11, 1688-1693
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    A membrane-based, high-efficiency, microfluidic debubbler

    C. Liu, J. A. Thompson and H. H. Bau, Lab Chip, 2011, 11, 1688
    DOI: 10.1039/C1LC20089E

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