SIMTech has developed a new Micro-mixer for microfluidic applications that vibrates to mix the fluid streams in microchannels. By doing so, it transforms laminar flow to oscillatory flow leading to efficient mixing of two fluids to provide ideal reaction conditions between them.
Microfluidic devices have a wide range of applications in fields such as molecular biology, DNA microarrays, Lab-on-Chips for biological and chemical studies, printing technology, etc. Micromixing is achieved in these microfluidic devices by either passive mixers or active mixers. The passive micromixers generally have complex static geometries and they make use of pumping energy to mix the fluid streams. They have considerably less mixing efficiency. On the other hand, active micromixers have better mixing efficiency but they need external pressure fields, electromagnetic or ultrasonic inputs to achieve mixing. In conventional microfluidic devices, external actuators are used to convert laminar flow to oscillatory flow in fluid channels.
The new device developed by Huanming Xia and others from SIMTech does away with powered external actuators for micromixing and altering fluid flow in microfluidic channels. This new device can be attached inline to convert laminar flow into oscillatory flow, while achieving effective mixing within milliseconds.
Micro-mixer has an elastic diaphragm mounted inside the fluid chamber in between its stepped sidewalls. When a fluid enters the device through the inlet, above a certain pressure, the diaphragm starts vibrating spontaneously, producing high frequency oscillatory flow at the outlet and in turn promotes effective mixing further down the channel. The diaphragm also doubles up as a non return valve.
The new Micro-mixer device can be used for various applications. Some of its applications in synthetic chemistry and nanoparticle synthesis are already figured out, and there are many other possible applications including its use in diagnostic chips, biological assays, for dispensing epoxy resins and other smart materials in 3D printing and many more. It is time to activate those grey cells of yours to find and suggest other potential uses of this new device by taking part in the Marblar Micro-mixer challenge. The best entry will get a cash reward of $1000 and a 5000 point marble.