A smartphone controlled handheld microfluidic liquid handling system†
Microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip technologies have made it possible to manipulate small volume liquids with unprecedented resolution, automation and integration. However, most current microfluidic systems still rely on bulky off-chip infrastructures such as compressed pressure sources, syringe pumps and computers to achieve complex liquid manipulation functions. Here, we present a handheld automated microfluidic liquid handling system controlled by a smartphone, which is enabled by combining elastomeric on-chip valves and a compact pneumatic system. As a demonstration, we show that the system can automatically perform all the liquid handling steps of a bead-based HIV1 p24 sandwich immunoassay on a multi-layer PDMS chip without any human intervention. The footprint of the system is 6 × 10.5 × 16.5 cm, and the total weight is 829 g including battery. Powered by a 12.8 V 1500 mAh Li battery, the system consumed 2.2 W on average during the immunoassay and lasted for 8.7 h. This handheld microfluidic liquid handling platform is generally applicable to many biochemical and cell-based assays requiring complex liquid manipulation and sample preparation steps such as FISH, PCR, flow cytometry and nucleic acid sequencing. In particular, the integration of this technology with read-out biosensors may help enable the realization of the long-sought Tricorder-like handheld in vitro diagnostic (IVD) systems.