WARF: P01350US

Microfluidic Actuation Method and Device


Amit Lal, Ville Kaajakari, Abhijit Sathaye

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a device and method to achieve pumping and mixing of fluid in microfluidic channels.
OVERVIEWThe inability to achieve effective mixing of reactants presents a constant problem in very small (20-50 micron diameter) microfluidic channels. This is particularly problematic for assays in which antibodies attached to small latex beads are used to detect an antigen.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed a device and method to achieve pumping and mixing of fluid in lithographically manufactured microfluidic channels. The device starts with microstructures within microcavities, which consist of cantilever elements coupled to a substrate that receives vibrations. An ultrasonic vibrator causes the substrate to vibrate. The motion of fluid within the microcavities can be controlled by selecting the shape of the cantilever elements, their position in the microcavity, the spacing of the cantilever elements in relation to the cavity walls, and the frequency of the vibrations. The vibrations can provide acoustic streaming to pump fluid through the cavity. Alternatively, the vibrations can induce small vortices that trap the fluid and mix the particles within it. Vibration may also cause the particles to concentrate in the vortices, thereby creating a local area for photo-detection of antigen presence. 
  • Assays such as the CRP, which is a non-specific, early warning test for immune rejection
  • Useful in any microfluidic device made by conventional lithographic methods
  • Less sensitive to electrical or chemical properties of the fluid than other pumping or mixing methods
  • Does not require mechanical or electrical connections to elements within the microcavities
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Mark Staudt at or 608-960-9845.
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