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Chueh-Yu Wu, Wei-Hao Liao, and Yi-Chung Tung Research Center for Applied Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei, TAIWAN
A novel pressure sensor with electrical readout based on ionic liquid (IL) electrofluidic circuit is reported in this paper. The pressure measurement is achieved by measuring the electrical property variation of the circuit induced by the pressure inside the microfluidic devices. The sensor integrated microfluidic device is made of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), and can be fabricated using the well-developed multilayer soft lithography (MSL) without additional microfabrication processes. Therefore, the pressure sensor is fully disposable, and can be seamlessly integrated into PDMS microfluidic devices. Moreover, an IL electrofluidic Wheatstone bridge is designed to provide the device linear output, great long-term and thermal stability. In this paper, the sensor performance characterization using pressurized gas and liquid flowing in the microfluidic channel have been conducted. The experimental results demonstrate the advantages of the device. The developed pressure sensor has great potentials for the development of next generation sensor-integrated microfluidic systems.
multilayer soft lithography (MSL) technique without further sophisticated cleanroom processes .
The pressure sensor integrated microfluidic device is composed of a glass substrate and two PDMS microfluidic layers: a pressure sensing electrofluidic circuit layer and a fluidic channel layer, which are separated by a deformable PDMS membrane with thickness of 100 µm as shown in Figure 1. On the electrofluidic circuit layer, four identical sets of electrofluidic resistors are arranged as a Wheatstone bridge circuit. On the fluidic channel layer, a microfluidic channel with a meander section is designed to provide fluidic resistance for demonstration. In addition, a short branch channel connected to a pressure transduction hole is designed on the fluidic channel layer for pressure measurement. A 4 mm-diameter hole for pressure transduction is punched and aligned to one of the electrofluidic resistor for pressure sensing. The operation principle of the pressure sensor is measuring the electrical property variation of the electrofluidic circuit induced by the pressure inside the microfluidic devices. While the pressure inside the microfluidic channel in the fluidic channel layer is increased, it deforms the membrane sandwiched between two PDMS layers according to the applied pressure. The membrane deformation further alters the cross-sectional area of the pressure sensing electrofluidic resistor, and causes the resulted electrical resistance change. As a result, the pressure inside the microfluidic channel can be estimated by the resistance variation. In order to precisely measure the electrical resistance change, an electrofluidic Wheatstone bridge is designed to transfer the resistance variation to a voltage signal. Wheatstone bridge has been widely used in many detection schemes, such as mechanical strain measurement , due to its thermal stability. Fig. 1 illustrates the photo a Wheatstone bridge constructed by IL electrofluidic circuit and its equivalent electrical configuration. By Kirchhoff’s circuit laws, the gate voltage, VG, across the bridge can be calculated by:
R1 1 VG = − ⋅VS R4 + R1 2
Pressure sensors are key components in various microfluidic systems, such as BioMEMS and micro-total analysis systems (µTAS) . An elastomeric material, polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), has been broadly exploited for microfluidic device fabrication due to its optical transparency and great manufacturability. Therefore, pressure sensors capable of being seamlessly integrated into the PDMS microfluidic devices are highly desired. Several integrated pressure-sensing schemes have been developed in the previous research; for instance: a pressure sensor based on image-based analysis of PDMS membranes. The measurement is achieved using modern optical technologies with high sensitivity . A conductive PDMS-based pressure sensor, which provides an electrical interface, has been developed for better integration with PDMS device . However, the existing devices still suffer from drawbacks such as, massive instrument requirements, complex signal analysis, and tedious assembly, which retard their practical exploitation in microfluidic devices. This paper presents a novel fully disposable and cost-effective pressure sensor with electrical readout. The developed sensor is constructed using an ionic liquid (IL)-based PDMS electrofluidic circuit, and it can be directly fabricated on top of various microfluidic devices. By using IL, which is electrical conductive and thermally stable, the device possesses excellent long-term stability. Moreover, the integrated device can be simply fabricated by well-developed
where R1~R4 is the electrical resistance of each branch. For the design with initially identical resistors, the gate voltage approaches zero. Specifically, the resistor R4 is exploited for pressure sensing, and its resistance value depends on the material property and the channel geometry. According to Ohm’s law, the resistance value is inversely
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MEMS 2011, Cancun, MEXICO, January 23-27, 2011
the integrated IL electrofluidic Wheatstone bridge circuit provides the device two essential 1088 . these identically changed values will be cancelled out. 40 sec). Midland. ionic liquid (1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium dicyanamide) was injected into the electrofluidic circuit channels. A voltage signal VS is applied through interconnections A and C. the resistance variation ∆R4 will also be small. Besides the linear output. SU-8. the temperature fluctuation in PDMS will increase or decrease the resistance values by the same order. electrofluidic circuit layer and fluidic channel layer. Assuming the deformation ∆A is small. Alfa Aesar. and red dye represents the fluidic channel layer (bottom) with a circular pressure transduction hole. The PDMS (Sylgard 184. proportional to the cross-sectional area: R4 = ρ Lc Ac DEVICE FABRICATION Figure 2 shows the fabrication steps of the entire microfluidic device with an integrated pressure sensor using the well-developed MSL technique. The gate voltage can be approximated by the first order of the Taylor expansion: V ∆VG = − S ⋅ ∆R4 4 R1 (4) Thus. R1~R4 are the electrofluidic resistors. MA). The fabricated electrofluidic circuit layer was then bonded onto a PDMS membrane using oxygen plasma surface treatments (90 W. The inlet of the fluidic channel is then connected to a syringe pump for fluidic actuation. R4. applied pressure affects the resistance value. Dow Corning. the resistance value of R4 will increase correspondingly: ρL c ∆R 4 = 2 A c ⋅ ∆A (3) where ∆A is the cross-sectional area reduction. and punched with four holes for IL injection and electrical connections.2H-Perfluorooctyl Trichlorosilane (97%) (L16606. the gate voltage change can be estimated by linear relationship: VS ρ Lc (5) ∆VG = − ⋅ 2 ⋅ ∆A4 4 R1 Ac As a result. and further causes the linear gate voltage variation in the Wheatstone bridge circuit. were replicated from molds fabricated using a negative tone photoresist.advantages: long-term and thermal stability.2H. While the pressure in the fluidic channel increases. Since. Finally. and their positions are close to each other. the IL electrofluidic circuit does not suffer the variation due to the evaporation of IL. As a result. Lc is the length of the channel. After assembling the two PDMS layers. The assembled electrofluidic layer with the PDMS membrane was bonded to the fluidic channel layer with the pressure transduction hole aligned to pressure sensing resistor. which provides the developed pressure sensor stable performances. The electrical interconnections to the electrofluidic circuit were achieved by inserting stainless steel blunt needles with electrical wires. As a result. Because of the hygroscopic nature of the IL. The electrofluidic circuit layer was made by PDMS cast against a silicon wafer mold silanized by 1H. while the gate voltage VG is monitored at interconnections B and D. The bridge circuit is constructed by the four identical resistors. and Ac is the cross-sectional area of the channel. the entire PDMS structure was bounded to a glass substrate. it can be retained in (2) where ρ is the resistivity. (A) Photo of the fabricated PDMS microfluidic device with a seamlessly integrated pressure sensor based on an ionic liquid electrofluidic circuit. Therefore. the gate voltage is insensitive to the time and temperature fluctuation. and the PDMS was cured in a 65oC oven for more than 4 hours. The patterns on the two layers. Consequently. The cured PDMS layer was peeled from the wafer. (B) Close view of the Wheatstone bridge circuit constructed using the ionic liquid electrofluidic circuit. the gate voltage in the Wheatstone bridge is determined by the ratios between resistances. the inlet and outlet to access the microfluidic channel in the fluidic channel layer were punched through the entire device. and R4 is the pressure sensing one. Figure 1. the membrane will deform upward and decrease the cross-section area of the resistor R4. The long-term stability is resulted from the extremely low vapor pressure and hygroscopic nature of IL. The fluidic channel layer was punched by one hole for pressure transduction before the bonding. The fluidic channel layer was also made by the same method as the electrofluidic circuit layer. Blue dye presents the electrofluidic circuit layer (top). patterned by conventional photolithography.1H. as ∆R4 is substituted by the result of Ohm’s law. MI) used in the entire fabrication process was prepared by PDMS precursor with 10:1 v/v of base to curing agent ratio. (C) The equivalent electrical circuit of the ionic liquid-filled microfluidic channels constructed for pressure sensing. Ward Hill. even the volume of IL (on the order of tens of µl) is small. The thermal stability is resulted from the utilization of the integrated Wheatstone bridge circuit. The membrane had thickness of 100 µm and was made by spinning PDMS precursor onto a silanized silicon wafer. After the device fabrication.
DEVICE CHARACTERIZATION Figure 3 illustrates the experimental setup for the device characterization. The fabrication process for the multi-layer PDMS microfluidic device with a seamlessly integrated pressure sensor. Chemyx. We utilized a personal computer with a data acquisition (DAQ) system (PCIe-6363. The gas was supplied by a nitrogen gas cylinder with a pressure regulator. and each flow rate was kept for 900 seconds for reaching the steady states. a dead-end microfluidic channel in the fluidic channel layer was pressurized using nitrogen gas. Pressure sensor calibration using pressurized gas. and control the syringe pump through a RS-232 serial interface simultaneously.787 MΩ. and the resulted correlation coefficient R2 was 0. The linear regression analysis was also applied to examine the relationship between flow rate and gate voltage change. The flow rate was set from 0 to 100 µL/min with the increment of 10 µL/min. The calculated electrical resistance of the entire circuit (or each resistor) is approximately 1. The LabVIEW program controlled DAQ system was exploited to apply voltages through the entire circuit and measure the voltage across the bridge circuit and the passing current. Figure 5 shows the calibration results. Every pressure level was hold for 2 minutes. the electrofluidic channel without significant evaporation . an I-V curve was measured across the entire circuit (terminals A and C) in the Figure 1C. The result also showed high correlation coefficient. Schematic of the experimental setup for the device characterization. The result verifies that the pressure sensor has the resolution of at least 0. the aforementioned theoretical derivation for the Wheatstone bridge using pure resistors can be expected to correctly predict the device performance. which was calculated by averaging the last 5 minutes data for each flow rate. National Instruments. Liquid pressure measurement using the developed pressure sensor. Austin.63 psi or 10 µl/min in the conventional microfluidic channel. an electrofluidic layer directly bonded on a glass substrate was utilized to measure the I-V curve.994. A LabVIEW program was coded to record the gate voltage using the DAQ system. The minimum flow rate tested was 10 µl/min. The current was calculated by measuring the voltage across the shunt resistor and dividing it by the resistance value. and the result of a linear regression analysis. National Instruments) for the syringe pump control (Fusion 200. and the electrical signal application and detection. and this flow yielded a pressure of approximate 0. The developed device was further exploited for liquid pressure measurement. the DAQ system continuously recorded the gate voltage while the gas pressure was regulated from 0 psi to 30 psi with the increment of 5 psi.993. and 3. Electrofluidic circuit I-V curve measurement. In order to calibrate the sensor performance. TX).998) of the I-V curve suggests the pure resistor behavior within the applied voltage range with minimal parasitic capacitance or inductance effects. In order to eliminate the influence of the pressure for the circuit characterization. During the calibration. The high correlation coefficient suggests the highly linear performance of the pressure sensor in the applied pressure range as derived in equation (5).45 mV gate voltage decrease. Stafford. 1089 . The excellent linearity (correlation coefficient R2 > 0. TX) and LabVIEW programs (Version 2009. R2 =0. To investigate the electrical characteristics of the constructed electrofluidic Wheatstone bridge circuit. The device was connected to a shunt resistor (1 M ) in series for current measurement. Consequently. It also shows that 1 psi increase results in 8.Figure 3. and the gate voltage in the second minute was averaged to present the gate voltage at each pressure.63 psi at the upstream of the channel according to the aforementioned calibration results. meaning the output gate voltage variation Figure 2. The device characterization can be categorized into three major parts: 1. The linear regression analysis was also applied to examine the relationship between the gate voltage change and pressure. Liquid pressure measurement using the developed pressure sensor. 2. Electrofluidic circuit current-voltage (I-V) curve measurement. Figure 4 shows the measured I-V curve of the electrofluidic circuit. Pressure sensor calibration using pressurized gas. Figure 6 shows the measurement results while injecting a fluid (water) into the device with controlled flow rates.
Calibration results of the device using pressurized nitrogen gas with pressure range of 0 ~ 30 psi. 034105-+. O. 2009. Furthermore. Further.. 113-116. which agrees with the theoretical prediction of laminar flow inside the fluid channel. Figure 4. J. Figure 5.45 mV/psi and the pressure as small as 2. Ch. Measurement Systems . the calibration results show that the gate voltage is linear proportional to the applied pressure with sensitivity of 8. the developed device can be seamlessly integrated into broadly adapted PDMS microfluidic systems without sophisticated fabrication and assembly processes. pp837-843. Science.5 psi can be easily detected. “Monolithic Microfabricated Valves and Pumps by Multilayer Soft Lithography”. 228.  E. The experimental results successfully demonstrate that the developed pressure sensor with the IL Wheatstone bridge circuit provides a linear measurement system with stable and sensitive electrical readout.S. vol.A. in the liquid pressure measurement. 2009. I-V curve measurement results of the ionic liquid electrofluidic Wheatstone bridge. 394-402. A. the gate voltage is also linear to the flow rate of water. the pressure is proportional to the flow rate.3345-3353.63 psi pressure drop in the liquid phase. The experimental results demonstrate that IL-filled microfluidic channels can be utilized as electrical resistors to construct functional circuits. pp.that the developed IL electrofluidic circuit-based presser sensor works as a linear measurement system due to the integrated Wheatstone bridge circuit. Biomicrofluidics. Unger et al. 5th Edn. DeMello.  K. Measurement results of the device while injecting water into the fluidic channel with flow rate range of 0 ~ 100 µl/min. Figure 6. Nature. vol. 2000.. Wang et al. McGrawHill. Phys. Appl. 90. pp. Gu et al.. and an electrofluidic Wheatstone bridge circuit has been designed to construct the pressure sensor. In conclusion. Chung et al. The simple configuration makes the device capable of being seamlessly integrated to wide varieties of PDMS microfluidic devices. In summary. vol. 03350-+.  L. pp.. REFERENCES  A. the experimental results confirmed 1090 . the high performance and great characteristics make the developed pressure sensor being promising for building next-generation integrated microfluidic systems. vol. 10. CONCLUSION This paper presents a novel pressure sensor based on IL electrofluidic circuit..  M. and the Academia Sinica Research Program on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. and the pressure sensor has been verified to have the resolution of 0. “Multiplex Pressure Mmeasurement in Microsystems Using Volume Displacement of Particle Suspensions”.  W. thus. 3. U. was linearly proportional to the flow rates of the fluid. pp. 9. Lett. The calculated electrical resistance of the entire circuit (or each resistor) is approximately 1.. 2003. Doebelin. pp.787 MΩ. “Control and Detection of Chemical Reactions in Microfluidic Systems”. 442. 2007. The gate voltage is also proportional to the pressure. Lab Chip. “Multiplexed Hydraulic Valve Actuation Using Ionic Liquid Filled Soft Channels and Braille Displays”. vol. “Polydimethylsiloxane-integratable Micropressure Sensor for Microfluidic Chips”. 2006. ACKNOWLEDGMENT This work was supported by National Science Council in Taiwan (99-2218-E-001-003).. In the pressure sensor performance characterization.Application and Design.
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