Dual independent displacement-amplified micropumps with a single actuator
Johnston, I. D.
Davis, J. B.
Tan, C. K. L.
We report a dual-micropump structure operated by a single actuator element. The constituent micropumps are a form of micro throttle pump (MTP) comprising a narrow flow channel incorporating two microthrottles. We term this a 'linear MTP' (LMTP). The LMTP's narrowness, in conjunction with an elastomeric substrate, allows multiple, independent, LMTPs to be actuated by a single piezoelectric actuator thereby suiting it to parallel microfluidic architectures. Furthermore, LMTP elements can be combined into parallel or series composites yielding increased maximum pumping rates or back pressures, respectively, when compared to a single LMTP element. The LMTP's flow-channel-like, linear pump chamber minimizes the development of recirculatory flows associated with circular pump chambers which, in part, determine their frequency response and hence maximum pumping rates. We have modelled, fabricated and evaluated a dual-LMTP. We report operation in three modes: as two distinct pumps, as a series composite pump, and as a parallel composite pump. Operating at about 1.6 kHz, with both pumps under identical load conditions, each pump yielded maximum pumping rates of about 750 mu l min(-1) and back pressures of 18 kPa, both with close matching. Configured as a series composite, a 35 kPa back pressure was achieved, and configured as a parallel composite, a maximum pumping rate of 1.4 ml min(-1) resulted. Images of 5 mu m polystyrene beads flowing within an LMTP confirm minimal recirculatory behaviour consistent with the LMTP's increased operating frequencies compared to circular pump chamber MTPs.