Design and implementation of fluidic micro-pulleys for flow control on centrifugal microfluidic platforms

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Microfluidic discs have been employed in a variety of applications for chemical analyses and biological diagnostics. These platforms offer a sophisticated fluidic toolbox, necessary to perform processes that involve sample preparation, purification, analysis, and detection. However, one of the weaknesses of such systems is the uni-directional movement of fluid from the disc centre to its periphery due to the uni-directionality of the propelling centrifugal force. Here we demonstrate a mechanism for fluid movement from the periphery of a hydrophobic disc towards its centre that does not rely on the energy supplied by any peripheral equipment. This method utilizes a ventless fluidic network that connects a column of working fluid to a sample fluid. As the working fluid is pushed by the centrifugal force to move towards the periphery of the disc, the sample fluid is pulled up towards the centre of the disc analogous to a physical pulley where two weights are connected by a rope passed through a block. The ventless network is analogous to the rope in the pulley. As the working fluid descends, it creates a negative pressure that pulls the sample fluid up. The sample and working fluids do not come into direct contact, and it allows the freedom to select a working fluid with physical properties markedly different from those of the sample. This article provides a demonstration of the “micro-pulley” on a disc, discusses underlying physical phenomena, provides design guidelines for fabrication of micro-pulleys on discs, and outlines a vision for future micro-pulley applications.

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The authors would like to thank Sanaz Moslemi-Asl and Alexandra Perebikovsky for their assistance with the graphics and Sheldon Smilo (OmegaTek) for the spinning disc image acquisition/processing. This work was supported by the National Institute of Health grant 1 R01 AI089541-01 and sponsored by WCU (World Class University) program (R32-2008-000-20054-0) through the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

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Correspondence to Salar Soroori.

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Soroori, S., Kulinsky, L., Kido, H. et al. Design and implementation of fluidic micro-pulleys for flow control on centrifugal microfluidic platforms. Microfluid Nanofluid 16, 1117–1129 (2014).

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  • Hydrophobic fluidics
  • Centrifugal microfluidics
  • Micro-pulley
  • Syphon
  • Inward flow
  • Pressure change