Technologies for a user-friendly microfluidic system for portable applications.
In the same way that the HIV virus subdues the human immune system, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has severely overloaded the health service infrastructure in resource limited countries and threatens to systematically suppress societies’ capacity to cope with killer diseases. The epidemic has also directly impacted the health workforce, causing absenteeism, attrition (due to illness and death), and increased demand for provider time and skills. Advanced and miniaturized microfluidic systems can perform complex biotechnological functions such as growing bacteria, sequencing DNA and identifying disease causing pathogens. As a technology, microfluidics offers so many advantages but it also suffers from a variety of technological drawbacks that limit its wide spread practical application in hospitals and patient setting. Microfluidic systems require a lot of time (6 hours to an entire work-day) to set up and the set-up process requires the meticulous attention of highly trained personnel. We proposed the development of an automated, time conservative and user-friendly fluid-transport system (off-chip to on-chip) for Microfluidic Large Scale Integration platform based microfluidic devices. Using multilayer soft-lithography, micro-electric actuators and a LabVIEW graphical user-interface, a user-friendly automated microfluidic fluid transport system was developed. In comparison to the conventional manual loading system, the developed system can save at least 60% of the total chip preparation time required during the off-chip to on-chip fluid loading process. This system can be extended and made compatible with other devices that require complex off-chip to on-chip loading processes in microfluidic large scale integration platform based systems.