Micropumps operated by swelling and shrinking of temperature-sensitive hydrogels†
This paper describes two types of polymeric micropumps based on the temperature-sensitive hydrogel poly(N-isopropylacrylamide). The gel actuators are realised as photopolymerised patterns and microgels. They are electrothermically controlled by resistive heating elements. The diffusion-based micropump contains a photopatterned monolithic actuator, which is placed within the pump chamber, and provides a valveless single layer set-up. The diffusion micropump is intended for low performance applications and can operate in two modes: peristaltic or pulsatile. The maximum operating parameters are a flow rate of 2.8 ± 0.35 µl min−1 and a back pressure of 1.28 kPa. The second type, a displacement pump, provides a higher performance (maximal 4.5 µl min−1 and 15 kPa). The pump comprises a microgel-based actuator, which is placed within a separate actuator layer, and active microvalves. The specific features of the design and performance of the pumps are discussed.