Screw-actuated displacement micropumps for thermoplastic microfluidics
The fabrication of on-chip displacement pumps integrated into thermoplastic chips is explored as a simple and low cost method for achieving precise and programmable flow control for disposable microfluidic systems. The displacement pumps consist of stainless steel screws inserted into threaded ports machined into a thermoplastic substrate which also serve as on-chip reagent storage reservoirs. Three different methods for pump sealing are investigated to enable high pressure flows without leakage, and software-defined control of multiple pumps is demonstrated in a self-contained platform using a compact and self-contained microcontroller for operation. Using this system, flow rates ranging from 0.5–40 μl min−1 are demonstrated. The pumps are combined with on-chip burst valves to fully seal multiple reagents into fabricated chips while providing on-demand fluid distribution in a downstream microfluidic network, and demonstrated for the generation of size-tunable water-in-oil emulsions.