Chancellor’s Innovation Fund Winner
PCT application filed
North Carolina State University is seeking entrepreneurs in microfluidics or diagnostic devices to commercialize a novel microfluidic battery.
With the desire to move many diagnostic tests from the centralized lab to the patient, microfluidic devices have incredible potential for widespread use in remote healthcare and other applications. Compact and accurate lab-on-a-chip devices enable sensing and measurement in remote locations and for patients who do not have access to centralized lab care. However, a key hurdle to the widespread adoption of lab-on-a-chip devices is their reliance on bulky and expensive components to actively pump, direct, and control the fluids within them.
In an effort to overcome this hurdle, a group of engineers from NC State University’s Biomedical Engineering Department have recently developed a novel passive pump for microfluidic devices that can be customized for a variety of applications. In contrast to other pumps, this pump requires no external power or tubing and connects directly to the microfluidic device. The pump is disposable and occupies a very small footprint. Spent pumps can be replaced with fresh pumps if desired. The pump provides flow rates from 100 nL/min to 100 uL/min and can be programmed to stop flow after a fixed volume of liquid has been pumped and to increase or decrease the flow at fixed intervals. These programmable pumps are low-cost and could potentially be used as plug-and-play for many microfluidic devices.
- Design can be customized for a wide range of flow rates and volumes
- Pump can be attached directly to microdevice, eliminating the need for tubing
- Low cost, self-powered, and simple to fabricate
- Capable of pumping a wide range of fluids (e.g. water, buffer, cell culture media, serum, blood)
- Applications include low-volume pumps for aqueous or organic fluids, characterization of porous materials, and quality control for microfluidic devices
About the Inventors
Dr. Brian Cummins is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at NC State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research areas include biomedical microdevices, point-of-care diagnostics, optical biosensing, microfluidics, glucose monitoring and fluorescence.
Dr. Frances Ligler is the Lampe Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at NC State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research areas include biomedical microdevices, regenerative medicine, microfluidics, tissue-on-chip technology, optical analytical devices, biosensors and nanotechnology.
Dr. Glenn Walker is an Associate Professor in the Joint
Department of Biomedical Engineering at NC State and the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill. His research areas include biomedical microdevices,
bio-microelectromechanical systems (bioMEMs), microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip