Self-powered imbibing microfluidic pump by liquid encapsulation: SIMPLE

Tadej Kokalj, Younggeun Park, Matjaž Vencelj, Monika Jenko, Luke P. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Reliable, autonomous, internally self-powered microfluidic pumps are in critical demand for rapid point-of-care (POC) devices, integrated molecular-diagnostic platforms, and drug delivery systems. Here we report on a Self-powered Imbibing Microfluidic Pump by Liquid Encapsulation (SIMPLE), which is disposable, autonomous, easy to use and fabricate, robust, and cost efficient, as a solution for self-powered microfluidic POC devices. The imbibition pump introduces the working liquid which is sucked into a porous material (paper) upon activation. The suction of the working liquid creates a reduced pressure in the analytical channel and induces the sequential sample flow into the microfluidic circuits. It requires no external power or control and can be simply activated by a fingertip press. The flow rate can be programmed by defining the shape of utilized porous material: by using three different paper shapes with circular section angles 20°, 40° and 60°, three different volume flow rates of 0.07 μL s-1, 0.12 μL s-1 and 0.17 μL s-1 are demonstrated at 200 μm × 600 μm channel cross-section. We established the SIMPLE pumping of 17 μL of sample; however, the sample volume can be increased to several hundreds of μL. To demonstrate the design, fabrication, and characterization of SIMPLE, we used a simple, robust and cheap foil-laminating fabrication technique. The SIMPLE can be integrated into hydrophilic or hydrophobic materials-based microfluidic POC devices. Since it is also applicable to large-scale manufacturing processes, we anticipate that a new chapter of a cost effective, disposable, autonomous POC diagnostic chip is addressed with this technical innovation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4329-4333
Number of pages5
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number22
StatePublished - 21 Nov 2014

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