, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 1279-1288
Date: 15 Sep 2009

A self-contained fully-enclosed microfluidic cartridge for lab on a chip

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We describe a self-contained fully-enclosed cartridge for lab-on-a-chip applications where sample and reagents can be applied sequentially as is performed in a heterogeneous immunoassay, or nucleic acid extraction. Both the self-contained and fully-enclosed features of the cartridge are sought to ensure its safe use in the field by unskilled staff. Simplicity in cartridge design and operation is obtained via adopting a valveless concept whereby reagents are stored and used in the form of liquid plugs isolated by air spacers around a fluidic loop. Functional components integrated in the loop include a microfluidic chip specific to the target application, a novel peristaltic pump to displace the liquid plugs, and a pair of removable tubing segments where one is used to introduce biological sample and while the other is to collect eluant. The novel pump is fabricated through soft-lithography technique and works by pinching a planar channel under stainless-steel ball bearings that have been magnetically loaded. The utility of the cartridge is demonstrated for automated extraction and purification of nucleic acids (DNA) from a cell lysate on a battery-operated portable system. The cartridge shown here can be further extended to sample-in-answer-out diagnostic tests.