Finger-powered microfluidic systems using multilayer soft lithography and injection molding processes
Point-of-care (POC) and disposable biomedical applications demand low-power microfluidic systems with pumping components that provide controlled pressure sources. Unfortunately, external pumps have hindered the implementation of such microfluidic systems due to limitations associated with portability and power requirements. Here, we propose and demonstrate a ‘finger-powered’ integrated pumping system as a modular element to provide pressure head for a variety of advanced microfluidic applications, including finger-powered on-chip microdroplet generation. By utilizing a human finger for the actuation force, electrical power sources that are typically needed to generate pressure head were obviated. Passive fluidic diodes were designed and implemented to enable distinct fluids from multiple inlet ports to be pumped using a single actuation source. Both multilayer soft lithography and injection molding processes were investigated for device fabrication and performance. Experimental results revealed that the pressure head generated from a human finger could be tuned based on the geometric characteristics of the pumping system, with a maximum observed pressure of 7.6 ± 0.1 kPa. In addition to the delivery of multiple, distinct fluids into microfluidic channels, we also employed the finger-powered pumping system to achieve the rapid formation of both water-in-oil droplets (106.9 ± 4.3 μm in diameter) and oil-in-water droplets (75.3 ± 12.6 μm in diameter) as well as the encapsulation of endothelial cells in droplets without using any external or electrical controllers.