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Issue 21, 2016
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Magnetic-adhesive based valves for microfluidic devices used in low-resource settings

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Since the introduction of micro total analytical systems (μTASs), significant advances have been made toward development of lab-on-a-chip platforms capable of performing complex biological assays that can revolutionize public health, among other applications. However, use of these platforms in low-resource environments (e.g. developing countries) has yet to be realized as the majority of technologies used to control microfluidic flow rely on off-device hardware with non-negligible size, cost, power requirements and skill/training to operate. In this paper we describe a magnetic-adhesive based valve that is simple to construct and operate, and can be used to control fluid flow and store reagents within a microfluidic device. The design consists of a port connecting two chambers on different planes in the device that is closed by a neodymium disk magnet seated on a thin ring of adhesive. Bringing an external magnet into contact with the outer surface of the device unseats and displaces the valve magnet from the adhesive ring, exposing the port. Using this configuration, we demonstrate on-device reagent storage and on-demand transport and reaction of contents between chambers. This design requires no power or external instrumentation to operate, is extremely low cost ($0.20 materials cost per valve), can be used by individuals with no technical training, and requires only a hand-held magnet to actuate. Additionally, valve actuation does not compromise the integrity of the completely sealed microfluidic device, increasing safety for the operator when toxic or harmful substances are contained within. This valve concept has the potential to simplify design of μTASs, facilitating development of lab-on-a-chip systems that may be practical for use in point-of-care and low-resource settings.

Graphical abstract: Magnetic-adhesive based valves for microfluidic devices used in low-resource settings

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Publication details

The article was received on 07 Jul 2016, accepted on 28 Sep 2016 and first published on 28 Sep 2016

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C6LC00858E
Citation: Lab Chip, 2016,16, 4142-4151

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    Magnetic-adhesive based valves for microfluidic devices used in low-resource settings

    J. C. Harper, J. M. Andrews, C. Ben, A. C. Hunt, J. K. Murton, B. D. Carson, G. D. Bachand, J. A. Lovchik, W. D. Arndt, M. R. Finley and T. L. Edwards, Lab Chip, 2016, 16, 4142
    DOI: 10.1039/C6LC00858E

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