A frugal microfluidic pump†
Manipulation of fluid flow is paramount for microfluidic device operation. Conventional microfluidic pumps are often expensive, bulky, complicated, and not amenable in limited resource settings. Here, we introduce a Fully self-sufficient, RobUst, Gravity-Assisted, Low-cost (FRUGAL) microfluidic pump. The pump consists of a syringe, a syringe holder and loading masses. The system is easy to assemble, inexpensive, portable, and electrical power-free. Inside the syringe, the fluid is driven by the pressure from the weight of the loading masses. During operation, the exerted pressure is dynamically controllable and stable for hours. These features are useful for optimization of microfluidics assays and dynamic temporal studies. We demonstrate the application of this system to control the formation of water-in-oil droplet emulsion. Benefitting from its simplicity and versatility, the frugal microfluidic pump will enable global adoption of microfluidic technology in chemistry and biomedical applications, especially in limited resource environments.