Versatile Microfluidic Platforms Enabled by Novel Magnetorheological Elastomer Microactuators

Journal: Advanced Functional Materials

Published: 2018-02-21

DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201705484

Affiliations: 3

Authors: 11

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Research Highlight

Tiny pumping systems a boost for microfluidics lab-on-a-chip

© WLADIMIR BULGAR/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

© WLADIMIR BULGAR/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

A new method of creating robust micro-systems for pumping and mixing liquids could become a key component of sensing, clinical or chemical synthesis devices based on microfluidics.

A University of Wollongong-led team created microfluidic components by combining moving magnets with pipes and chambers made of a flexible material laced with ferromagnetic particles, called a magnetorheological elastomer (MRE).

For example, a micro-pump was made by placing magnets underneath a chamber 15 millimetres by 5 millimetres by 75 micrometres high. The magnets pulled the ferromagnetic MRE top of the chamber down, constricting the flow. By moving the magnets the researchers moved the constriction, propelling the liquid in a similar way to squeezing toothpaste from a tube. 

The team employed the same method in different configurations to create miniature pumps and mixers that can be easily and cheaply built and incorporated into lab-on-a-chip systems, removing the current need for bulky external pumps.


Supported content

  1. Advanced Functional Materials 28, 1705484 (2018). doi: 10.1002/adfm.201705484
Institutions FC
School of Mechanical, Materials, Mechatronic and Biomedical Engineering (MMM), UOW, Australia 0.73
Department of Precision Machinery and Precision Instrumentation, USTC, China 0.18
School of Mechanical Engineering, NUST, China 0.09

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