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Issue 1, 2012
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Fuel cell-powered microfluidic platform for lab-on-a-chip applications

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The achievement of a higher degree of integration of components – especially micropumps and power sources – is a challenge currently being pursued to obtain portable and totally autonomous microfluidic devices. This paper presents the integration of a micro direct methanol fuel cell (μDMFC) in a microfluidic platform as a smart solution to provide both electrical and pumping power to a Lab-on-a-Chip system. In this system the electric power produced by the fuel cell is available to enable most of the functionalites required by the microfluidic chip, while the generated CO2 from the electrochemical reaction produces a pressure capable of pumping a liquid volume through a microchannel. The control of the fuel cell operating conditions allows regulation of the flow rate of a liquid sample through a microfluidic network. The relation between sample flow rate and the current generated by the fuel cell is practically linear, achieving values in the range of 4–18 μL min−1 while having an available power between 1–4 mW. This permits adjusting the desired flow rate for a given application by controlling the fuel cell output conditions and foresees a fully autonomous analytical Lab-on-a-Chip in which the same device would provide the electrical power to a detection module and at the same time use the CO2 pumping action to flow the required analytes through a particular microfluidic design.

Graphical abstract: Fuel cell-powered microfluidic platform for lab-on-a-chip applications

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Publication details

The article was received on 18 May 2011, accepted on 08 Sep 2011 and first published on 10 Nov 2011

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C1LC20426B
Lab Chip, 2012,12, 74-79

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    Fuel cell-powered microfluidic platform for lab-on-a-chip applications

    J. P. Esquivel, M. Castellarnau, T. Senn, B. Löchel, J. Samitier and N. Sabaté, Lab Chip, 2012, 12, 74
    DOI: 10.1039/C1LC20426B

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