Microfluidic devices are the one which controls fluids that have a volume of 1 µl or less, that is, volumes considerably minor to a single teardrop. These devices are utilized in several applications spanning from drug testing technologies to biomedical diagnostic tools. Microfluidic technology holds a potential to carry out many medical tests, which in the present scenario are expensive and also critical to function, at a cost-effective, simpler, and easily portable approach. However, there are few challenges faced by this technology. One of them is when such microfluidic devices are needed to be charged with large, external pumps, the pumps while assisting in the proof-of-concept, points to the restraints of the microfluidics.
A group of biomedical engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the North Carolina State University has designed a cost-effective paper pumps that utilize capillary action to charge portable microfluidic devices, creating new insights for a variety of biomedical tools.
The pumps that are fundamentally hydraulic batteries utilize capillary action to shift the liquid. In a way, they are daintily adjusted paper towels that draw fluid into themselves, and this drawing action can be controlled by altering the pump size or by loading several such paper pumps onto each other. The present device utilizes 125-µm thick paper pieces, which slightly more than the girth of a single hair. The shape can be transformed in two dimensions by merely cutting the paper. Similarly, it can be adjusted in three dimensions by loading several pumps onto each other. By piling the paper, the team was able to generate more intricate flow profiles, depending on the requirements for any given application. The hydraulic batteries are small, very inexpensive, lightweight, disposable, and easy to connect to a device.
Every pump costs just pennies to be manufactured and if established on a large scale would drop to almost nothing. The research team has already filed a patent application for their paper pump technology and is at present looking out for industry partners to assist them in getting the device to the market.
We hope that the device is able to make a difference in public health and further advance the technological field. Right?