A self-sufficient pressure pump using latex balloons for microfluidic applications†
Here, we demonstrate a self-sufficient, inexpensive and disposable pressure pump using commercially available latex balloons. The versatility of the pump is demonstrated against various microfluidic structures, liquid viscosities, and ambient temperatures. The flow rate of the pump can be controlled by varying the size and thickness of the balloon. Importantly, the soft structure of the balloon allows for almost instantaneous change of the flow rate upon manual squeezing of the balloon. This feature has been used for dynamically changing the flow ratio of parallel streams in a T-shaped channel or varying the size of droplets in a droplet generation system. The self-sufficiency, simplicity of fabrication and operation, along with the low-cost of the balloon pump facilitate the widespread application of microfluidic technologies for various research, education, and in situ monitoring purposes.