Polyethylene glycol (PEG)-based actuator for nozzle-diffuser pumps in plastic microfluidic systems

Academic Article


  • Plastic casting is an inexpensive technique for fabrication of disposable microfluidic systems for various biochemical applications. Epoxies are ideal for microfluidic applications and have excellent optical, thermal and chemical properties and are biologically inert. Pumps are critical for these systems and have a wide variety of applications including transport, mixing, cooling and creating pressure differences. In this paper, we discuss the fabrication of a valve-less nozzle-diffuser pump integrated within a plastic microfluidic system. The pump uses thermal actuation, making use of the large volumetric expansion of a wax patch, when it transitions from solid to liquid phase. The wax used is polyethylene glycol, MW 8000 (PEG 8000) a carbowax with a volume expansion of up to 30%. The melting point of the PEG 8000 is 60°C and thermal modeling shows that pump operates with fluid temperatures of less than 100°C at the interface which is critical in order to prevent sample loss due to evaporation. Testing of fabricated devices show maximum flow rates of 70 nl/min and generation of pressure heads of up to 1400 Pa.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Sethu P; Mastrangelo CH
  • Start Page

  • 283
  • End Page

  • 289
  • Volume

  • 104