Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Technique Fabricates 'Plumbing' For Microfluid Factories

Date:
March 24, 2003
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have devised a new method for fabricating three-dimensional "plumbing" for fluids in millimeter-sized devices, using a robotic pen to draw the pipes with specialized ink. They have used the plumbing to build a mixing factory for microscopic fluid streams, and future applications may include uses in sensors, labs-on-chips and self-repairing materials.

ARLINGTON, Va. – Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have devised a new method for fabricating three-dimensional "plumbing" for fluids in millimeter-sized devices, using a robotic pen to draw the pipes with specialized ink. They have used the plumbing to build a mixing factory for microscopic fluid streams, and future applications may include uses in sensors, labs-on-chips and self-repairing materials.

Related Articles


"Our approach opens up new avenues for device design that are currently inaccessible by conventional methods," said Jennifer Lewis, a professor of materials science and engineering and of chemical engineering at Illinois. The Illinois team reports its findings in the April 2003 Nature Materials. The research is supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Science Foundation, the independent federal agency that supports basic research in all fields of science and engineering.

The plumbing, built out of 3-D networks of microchannels that can range from 10 microns to 300 microns (millionths of a meter) in diameter, represents several advances over conventional, 2-D networks that are etched into a flat wafer, for example. Because pipes are stacked on top of one another in the 3-D plumbing, it occupies a much smaller footprint than 2-D channels of comparable length. At the same time, the Illinois team's 3-D networks are much more effective at mixing fluids than the best 2-D alternatives. "Fluid mixing is critical" for many microfluid applications, Lewis said.

The networks of microchannels may also provide "an analog to the human circulatory system for the next generation of self-healing materials," said Scott White, a professor of aeronautical and astronautical engineering and a researcher at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. "The embedded network would serve as a circulatory system for transporting repair chemicals to damage sites within the material."

To create the microchannel networks, Lewis, White, and graduate student Daniel Therriault utilize a computer-controlled robotic "pen." The pen's nozzle deposits a line of waxy ink from which a three-dimensional scaffold is constructed.

"The ink exits the nozzle as a continuous, rod-like filament that is deposited onto a moving platform, yielding a two-dimensional pattern," Lewis said. "After a layer is generated, the stage is raised and rotated, and another layer is deposited. The process is repeated until the desired structure is produced." The waxy ink retains its cylindrical shape, even as it crosses gaps in the level of the scaffold below it.

Next, the scaffold is surrounded with an epoxy resin. After the resin solidifies, the material is heated, and the waxy ink melts away and leaves behind an empty network of crisscrossed pipes and joints.

In the final step, the pipes are flooded with a resin that hardens under exposure to ultraviolet light. The material is selectively exposed to UV rays, sealing off channels to create the desired plumbing pathways. The relatively simple technique permits the Illinois team to construct plumbing with regular geometries, such as square-spiral towers that stair-step their way up through the scaffolding.

The researchers built these square-spiral towers for mixing microfluid streams to demonstrate the effectiveness of their fabrication technique. Each of the integrated tower arrays was made from a 16-layer scaffold. The mixing efficiency of these stair-cased towers was measured by monitoring the mixing of two dyed fluid streams using fluorescent microscopy.

"These three-dimensional towers dramatically improve fluid mixing compared to simple one- and two-dimensional channels," White said. "By forcing the fluids to make right-angle turns as they wind their way up the tower, the fluid interface is made to fold on top of itself repeatedly. This causes the fluids to become well-mixed in a short distance."

The Illinois researchers are considering more sophisticated techniques for creating arbitrary 3-D plumbing structures in the final step. "That would just open up a huge window for what we could do in the future in 3-D," Lewis said. "Full-fledged 'factories-on-a-chip' for any of the long-term applications envisioned may require these more complex structures."

###

Colloidal Processing Research Lab: http://colloids.mse.uiuc.edu/

Autonomic Materials Lab: http://www.autonomic.uiuc.edu


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "New Technique Fabricates 'Plumbing' For Microfluid Factories." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030324063747.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2003, March 24). New Technique Fabricates 'Plumbing' For Microfluid Factories. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030324063747.htm
National Science Foundation. "New Technique Fabricates 'Plumbing' For Microfluid Factories." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030324063747.htm (accessed October 26, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) Brave Robotics and Asratec teamed with original Transformers toy company Tomy to create a functional 5-foot-tall humanoid robot that can march and fold itself into a 3-foot-long sports car. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Police Testing New Gunfire Tracking Technology

Police Testing New Gunfire Tracking Technology

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A California-based startup has designed new law enforcement technology that aims to automatically alert dispatch when an officer's gun is unholstered and fired. Two law enforcement agencies are currently testing the technology. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins