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Optimized Mixing in Microchannels with Integrated Microactuators


Microscale valves and pumps have been designed and fabricated for integration into a microfluidic circuit. Furthermore, a micromixer for this circuit has been designed and optimized.

N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPA) gels have been fabricated and actuated directly with heat and indirectly by laser. A new method for photopatterning these gels based on photoinitiation has been used to fabricate hydrogel valves down to 50 um in diameter. Hydrogel valves have been fabricated in situ in a microfluidic network. The valves open in 27 seconds and close via diffusion of water into the gel in 128 seconds, which is faster than other optically-driven polymers used for large displacements.

In this research, azobis-isobutyronitrile (AIBN) is incorporated into a variety of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) pump chambers. The AIBN is heated via integrated resistive heaters and decomposes to release nitrogen gas. The nitrogen gas provides impulse power to a PDMS diaphragm to displace the fluid. The pump devices have been built and characterized.

Lastly, in this work, we describe the use of combined fluid dynamic and diffusion modeling to simulate a micromixer based on the elements above. The micromixer is optimized via Design of Experiments to produce an optimized geometry for mixing. The optimization is validated via comparison to previous work through the Strouhal number.

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