Thermo-pneumatic pumping in centrifugal microfluidic platforms
The pumping of fluids in microfluidic discs by centrifugal forces has several advantages, however, centrifugal pumping only permits unidirectional fluid flow, restricting the number of processing steps that can be integrated before fluids reach the edge of the disc. As a solution to this critical limitation, we present a novel pumping technique for the centrifugal microfluidic disc platform, termed the thermo-pneumatic pump (TPP), that enables fluids to be transferred the center of a rotating disc by the thermal expansion of air. The TPP is easy to fabricate as it is a structural feature with no moving components and thermal energy is delivered to the pump via peripheral infrared (IR) equipment, enabling pumping while the disc is in rotation. In this report, an analytical model for the operation of the TPP is presented and experimentally validated. We demonstrate that the experimental behavior of the pump agrees well with theory and that flow rates can be controlled by changing how well the pump absorbs IR energy. Overall, the TPP enables for fluids to be stored near the edge of the disc and transferred to the center on demand, offering significant advantages to the microfluidic disc platform in terms of the handling and storage of liquids.