Unveiling the missing transport mechanism inside the valveless micropump†
It has long been held, misleadingly, that the rectifier is the only decisive element for the design of fluid transportation in a valveless micropump. We have shown here that pump performance is also critically dependent on the design of the vibration chamber, a neglected element in micropump design that has drawn almost no attention in the past. Moreover, the generally used in-line design has, surprisingly, the lowest efficiency. The transport mechanism was found to be linked to the hydraulic coupling of two asymmetric vortex pairs inside the vibration chamber. Based upon the discovered flow mechanism, the proposed design inspired by an ancient fish trap has shown extraordinary improvement in micropump performance. It could also be potentially integrated with most existing designs for further energy saving.