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A Programmable Microfluidic Finite State Machine for the Autonomous Lab on a Chip

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-SA' version 4.0 license

Microfluidics is an adaptation of semiconductor technology to the creation of circuits of gas and liquid. They have enabled the establishment of mechanical and liquid circuits with complexity similar to integrated electrical circuits. However, while the microfluidic chips have been miniaturized, their external governing systems have remained unchanged. This lack of embedded control transforms the small chip into a large and often cumbersome system.

Next generation of microfluidic systems will allow reduction or removal of these controllers. Various successful microfluidics for reduction of these external requirements has been demonstrated. However, an autonomous, self-contained, programmable microfluidic finite state machines (FSM) that only requires power to operate has remained absent.

In this work, we present sequential logic circuits implemented in microfluidics rather than electronics for the autonomous control of liquid networks. We demonstrate microcontrollers, simple pneumatic computers, built entirely out of microfluidic parts. We also demonstrate a programmable FSM, first programmable microfluidic computer, built out of pneumatic Boolean logic gates and channels.

We show a 6-bit asynchronous pneumatic counters, useful as an embedded timing reference. Added to the controllers we create liquid systems such as a 7 stage 1:1 serial diluter system, i.e. serial dilution ladder. Finally, we integrate liquid networks with these controllers to create self-contained microfluidic systems.

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