Centrifugo-pneumatic valving utilizing dissolvable films
In this article we introduce a novel technology that utilizes specialized water dissolvable thin films for valving in centrifugal microfluidic systems. In previous work (William Meathrel and Cathy Moritz, IVD Technologies, 2007), dissolvable films (DFs) have been assembled in laminar flow devices to form efficient sacrificial valves where DFs simply open by direct contact with liquid. Here, we build on the original DF valving scheme to leverage sophisticated, merely rotationally actuated vapour barriers and flow control for enabling comprehensive assay integration with low-complexity instrumentation on "lab-on-a-disc" platforms. The advanced sacrificial valving function is achieved by creating an inverted gas-liquid stack upstream of the DF during priming of the system. At low rotational speeds, a pocket of trapped air prevents a surface-tension stabilized liquid plug from wetting the DF membrane. However, high-speed rotation disrupts the metastable gas/liquid interface to wet the DF and thus opens the valve. By judicious choice of the radial position and geometry of the valve, the burst frequency can be tuned over a wide range of rotational speeds nearly 10 times greater than those attained by common capillary burst valves based on hydrophobic constrictions. The broad range of reproducible burst frequencies of the DF valves bears the potential for full integration and automation of comprehensive, multi-step biochemical assay protocols. In this report we demonstrate DF valving, discuss the biocompatibility of using the films, and show a potential sequential valving system including the on-demand release of on-board stored liquid reagents, fast centrifugal sedimentation and vigorous mixing; thus providing a viable basis for use in lab-on-a-disc platforms for point-of-care diagnostics and other life science applications.