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Title:Electrostatic actuators for portable microfluidic systems
Author(s):Tice, Joshua
Director of Research:Kenis, Paul J.A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kenis, Paul J.A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Apblett, Christopher A.; Seebauer, Edmund G.; Schroeder, Charles M.
Department / Program:Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Discipline:Chemical Engineering
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Electrostatic actuator
Carbon nanotube electrode
Abstract:Both developed and developing nations have an urgent need to diagnose disease cheaply, reliably, and independently of centralized facilities. Microfulidic platforms are well-positioned to address the need for portable diagnostics, mainly due to their obvious advantage in size. However, most microfluidic methods rely on equipment outside of the chip either for driving fluid flow (e.g., syringe pumps) or for taking measurements (e.g., lasers or microscopes). The energy and space requirements of the whole system inhibit portability and contribute to costs. To capitalize on the strengths of microfluidic platforms and address the serious needs of society, system components need to be miniaturized. Also, miniaturization should be accomplished as simply as possible, considering that simplicity is usually requisite for achieving truly transformative technology. Herein, I attempt to address the issue of controlling fluid flow in portable microfluidic systems. I focus on systems that are driven by elastomer-based membrane valves, since these valves are inherently simple, yet they are capable of sophisticated fluid manipulation. Others have attempted to modify pneumatic microvalves for portable applications, e.g., by transitioning to electromagnetic, thermopneumatic, or piezoelectric actuation principles. However, none of these strategies maintain the proper balance of simplicity, functionality, and ease of integration. My research centers on electrostatic actuators, due to their conceptual simplicity and the efficacy of electrostatic forces on the microscale. To ensure easy integration with polymer-based systems, and to maintain simplicity in the fabrication procedure, the actuators were constructed solely from poly(dimethylsiloxane) and multi-walled carbon nanotubes. In addition, the actuators were fabricated exclusively with soft-lithographic techniques. A mathematical model was developed to identify actuator parameters compatible with soft-lithography, and also to minimize actuation potentials while eliminating stiction. Two strategies were developed to overcome challenges with electrode screening in the presence of aqueous fluids. First, instead of using the electrostatic actuators to interact directly with aqueous solutions, the actuators were used to regulate pressurized control lines for pneumatic microvalves. Secondly, by adopting a normally-closed architecture, the actuators were converted into microvalves capable of directly interacting with aqueous solutions. The two strategies are complementary, and together should enable sophisticated microfluidic systems for applications ranging from point-of-care diagnostics to portable chemical detection. To conclude the dissertation, I demonstrate a proof-of-principle microfluidic system that contained sixteen independently-operated electrostatic valves, operated with battery-operated electrical ancillaries in a hand-held format.
Issue Date:2013-02-03
Rights Information:(c) 2012 Joshua Tice
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-02-03
Date Deposited:2012-12

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