Self-sufficient, low-cost microfluidic pumps utilising reinforced balloons†
Here, we introduce a simple method for increasing the inflation pressure of self-sufficient pressure pumps made of latex balloons. Our method involves reinforcing the latex balloon with elastane fibres to restrict the expansion of the balloon and increase its inflation pressure. This allowed us to increase the operational inflation pressure of a latex balloon from 2.5 to 25 kPa. Proof-of-concept experiments show the suitability of the reinforced balloon for inducing lateral forces and recirculating flows, which are employed for hydrodynamic capturing of large human monocytes. We also demonstrate the ability for the rapid exchange of solutions in repeated cycles upon manual squeezing of the reinforced balloons. We also show the suitability of the reinforced balloon for studying the mechanobiology of human aortic endothelial cells under various shear stress levels. The simplicity, portability, affordability, hyper-elasticity and scalability of the reinforced balloon pumps make them suitable for a wide range of microfluidic applications.