We present autonomously-triggered on-chip microfluidic cooling devices that utilize thermo-responsive hydrogels to adapt to local environmental temperatures. An external rotating magnetic stirrer couples with an in situ fabricated nickel impeller in these centrifugal-based microfluidic cooling devices to recirculate cooler water. Temperature-responsive hydrogels, which exhibit volumetric expansion and contraction, are integrated at the axle of the impeller. In this design, the hydrogels behave similar to an automotive clutch, to autonomously control the impeller's rotation as a function of the local environmental temperature. Therefore, the hydrogels act as both sensors and actuators and help take away the necessity for additional temperature sensing, feedback, and/or control units here. Cooling devices capable of on-chip thermal management at multiple predetermined onset operation points are realized by changes to the composition of hydrogel to alter its lowest critical solution temperature (LCST). Furthermore, the effect of magnetic stirrer frequency on the fluid cooling and flowrates for different two-blade nickel impeller designs are presented.
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