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New glass-based pumps for lab-on-chip technology

May 27, 2014

One key component of the research at QBiC is new technologies for systems biology study. Yo Tanaka, a Unit Leader, has accordingly devoted himself to lab-on-chip technologies, especially those made of glass. Glass is relatively inert compared with more common materials used in these chips, such as polymers. Much of the research done in the Tanaka lab has investigated the use of a flexible, ultra-thin glass sheet that is durable enough to be used as a pump. In his most recent work, published in Micromachines, Yo describes a glass-based peristaltic pump built entirely from commercially available products and assembled onto a 100% glass microchip.

To increase the pumping pressure, Yo designed the pump to have four serial valves that generate a circular flow. The flow rate was linearly proportional to the pumping frequency and was comparable with that seen in contemporary polymer-based pumps. A more universal measure of pump performance is the self-pumping frequency, which describes the ratio of the maximum flow rate at zero pressure delivery with the fluid volume of the pumping chambers or channels. His pump scored 0.6. Other peristaltic pumps have achieved this performance, but only when using elastomer as the diaphragm material.

As a next stage, Yo is collaborating with other QBiC members to show the applicability of his all-glass microchip for biological study. One exciting promise is its feasibility with organic solvents, as he demonstrates in the paper they do not compromise the glass or leak from the chambers. These properties will allow for the separation and study of cells that require treatment with such solvents, along with expanding organic chemistry studies in general.

    Yo Tanaka (2014) A peristaltic pump integrated on a 100% glass microchip using computer controlled piezoelectric actuators: Micromachines 5(2), 289-299; doi:10.3390/mi5020289open access journal