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Advanced Capillary Soft Valves for Flow Control in Self-Driven Microfluidics

Author(s): Martina Hitzbleck | Emmanuel Delamarche

Journal: Micromachines
ISSN 2072-666X

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: microfluidics | capillary system | stop valve | liquid control

Self-driven microfluidic devices enable fully autonomous handling of very small volumes of liquid samples and reagents. However, many applications require an active control mechanism to trigger self-driven flow in microchannels. Here, we report on capillary soft valves (CSVs), which enable stopping a liquid filling front at a precise location inside a microchannel and can resume flow of liquid upon simple actuation. The working mechanism of a CSV is based on a barrier of capillary pressure induced by an abruptly expanding microchannel. We discuss the influence of wetting conditions on the performance of a CSV and the effect of elevated temperatures on a CSV in its closed state. We introduce design features such as pillars and cavities, as well as fabrication techniques for rounded microchannels, which all may broaden the applicability and robustness of CSVs in microfluidic devices. Finally, we present CSV having multiple inlet channels. CSVs further diversify the toolbox of microfluidic functionalities and yet are simple to implement, fabricate and actuate.
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