Vacuum pouch microfluidic system and its application for thin-film micromixers†
In this paper, a new type of lab-on-a-chip system, called vacuum pouch microfluidic (VPM) system, is reported. The core of this technology is a thin-film vacuum pouch that provides negative pumping pressure once it is activated. It is a degassed plastic bag that encloses a microfluidic chip. To demonstrate its performance, a passive thin-film micromixer is developed to integrate with the vacuum pouch. Since both the vacuum pouch and the thin-film micromixer are made of plastic film, they can be laminated together to construct a multi-layered microfluidic system. Excluding the storage reservoir, the overall thickness is 0.4 mm and the total weight is 0.3 g. This system provides a simple and straightforward strategy to construct a standalone, portable, flexible and low cost microfluidic system. The thin-film micromixer uses a serpentine channel to perform the mixing process, and it is found to have distinct mixing mechanisms under different Reynolds (Re) numbers, where lateral diffusion dominates for Re < 1 and chaotic mixing starts to contribute for Re > 10. Integrating this thin-film micromixer with the vacuum pouch, it is demonstrated that the negative pumping pressure can be adjusted by different storage reservoirs being placed at the channel exit. Reynolds numbers ranging from 0.0064 to 45.2 can be achieved. It also is verified that the VPM micromixer can be stored for 4 weeks to provide a sufficient flow rate for mixing applications. Finally, to demonstrate the feasibility of applying this VPM-based thin-film micromixer for on-site detection, this system is integrated with the colorimetric method. It is verified that a 10 μl ferrous ion solution and a 10 μl potassium ferricyanide solution can be mixed in 12 seconds, and concentrations of 10 ppm to 1000 ppm can be quantified by analyzing the colorimetric signal in hue values.