An organic self-regulating microfluidic system
In this paper we present an organic feedback scheme that merges microfluidics and responsive materials to address several limitations of current microfluidic systems. By using in situ fabrication and by taking advantage of microscale phenomena (e.g., laminar flow, short diffusion times), we have demonstrated feedback control of the output pH in a completely organic system. The system autonomously regulates an output stream at pH 7 under a range of input flow conditions. A single responsive hydrogel component performs the functionality of traditional feedback system components. Vertically stacked laminar flow is used to improve the time response of the hydrogel actuator. A star shaped orifice is utilized to improve the flow characteristics of the membrane/orifice valve. By changing the chemistry of the hydrogel component, the system can be altered to regulate flow based on hydrogels sensitive to temperature, light, biological/molecular, and others.