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Proceedings Paper

Photo-responsive hydrogel for controlling flow on a microfluidic chip
Author(s): Khaled Al-Aribe; George K. Knopf; Amarjeet S. Bassi
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Paper Abstract

One technological challenge in microfluidic system design has been controlling the directional flow of minute amounts of fluid through various narrow channels. Stimuli-responsive polymers can be used as micro control devices such as valves because these materials significantly change their volumetric properties in response to small environmental changes in pH, temperature, solvent composition, or electric field. In this paper, a bi-layered hydrogel structure is introduced as a light activated microactuator. The first layer of the device is a light sensitive polymer network containing poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) and the retinal protein bacteriorhodopsin (bR). The second layer is a blend of PVA hydrogel and a pH sensitive polymer polyethylenimine (PEI). When exposed to a light source with a peak response at 568 nm, the bR molecules in the first layer undergo a multistage photocycle that cause protons to be pumped into the surrounding medium. The diffusion of these similarly charged ions through the adjoining pH responsive hydrogel generates electrostatic repulsive and attractive forces which alter the osmotic pressure within the cross-linked polymer network. Depending upon the type of electrostatic forces generated, the pH sensitive hydrogel layer will swell or, alternatively, collapse. The multi-layered structure can be fabricated and inserted into the microchannel. The expanding volume of the actuating hydrogel is used to regulate flow or control leakage. Preliminary experiments on a 625mm3 optical actuating device are presented to identify key response characteristics and illustrate the mechanism for actuation

Paper Details

Date Published: 8 September 2006
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 6343, Photonics North 2006, 63432R (8 September 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.707765
Show Author Affiliations
Khaled Al-Aribe, The Univ. of Western Ontario (Canada)
George K. Knopf, The Univ. of Western Ontario (Canada)
Amarjeet S. Bassi, The Univ. of Western Ontario (Canada)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6343:
Photonics North 2006
Pierre Mathieu, Editor(s)

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