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Simple Check Valves for Microfluidic DevicesA simple design concept for check valves has been adopted for microfluidic devices that consist mostly of (1) deformable fluorocarbon polymer membranes sandwiched between (2) borosilicate float glass wafers into which channels, valve seats, and holes have been etched. The first microfluidic devices in which these check valves are intended to be used are micro-capillary electrophoresis (microCE) devices undergoing development for use on Mars in detecting compounds indicative of life. In this application, it will be necessary to store some liquid samples in reservoirs in the devices for subsequent laboratory analysis, and check valves are needed to prevent cross-contamination of the samples. The simple check-valve design concept is also applicable to other microfluidic devices and to fluidic devices in general. These check valves are simplified microscopic versions of conventional rubber- flap check valves that are parts of numerous industrial and consumer products. These check valves are fabricated, not as separate components, but as integral parts of microfluidic devices. A check valve according to this concept consists of suitably shaped portions of a deformable membrane and the two glass wafers between which the membrane is sandwiched (see figure). The valve flap is formed by making an approximately semicircular cut in the membrane. The flap is centered over a hole in the lower glass wafer, through which hole the liquid in question is intended to flow upward into a wider hole, channel, or reservoir in the upper glass wafer. The radius of the cut exceeds the radius of the hole by an amount large enough to prevent settling of the flap into the hole. As in a conventional rubber-flap check valve, back pressure in the liquid pushes the flap against the valve seat (in this case, the valve seat is the adjacent surface of the lower glass wafer), thereby forming a seal that prevents backflow.
Document ID
Document Type
Other - NASA Tech Brief
Willis, Peter A. (California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Greer, Harold F. (California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Smith, J. Anthony (California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
May 1, 2010
Publication Information
Publication: NASA Tech Briefs, May 2010
Subject Category
Man/System Technology and Life Support
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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NameType 20100019599.pdf STI

Related Records

IDRelationTitle20100019580Analytic PrimaryNASA Tech Briefs, May 2010