Characterizations of gas purge valves for liquid alignment and gas removal in a microfluidic chip

Han-Shengh Chuang, Natl Cheng Kung University
Raviraj Thakur, Purdue University, Birck Nanotechnology Center
Steven T. Wereley, Purdue University, Birck Nanotechnology Center

Date of this Version



Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, Volume 22, Number 8


Two polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) gas purge valves for excessive gas removal in general lab-on-a-chip applications are presented in this paper. Both valves are devised based on a three-layer configuration comprising a top layer for liquid channels, a membrane and a bottom layer for gas channels. The pneumatic valves work as a normal gateway for fluids when the membrane is bulged down (open state) by vacuum or pushed up (closed state) by pressure. In the closed state, the air in front of a liquid can be removed through a small notch or a permeable PDMS membrane by compressing the liquid. The purge valve with a small notch across its valve seat, termed surface-tension (ST) valve, can be operated with pressure under 11.5 kPa. The liquid is mainly retained by the surface tension resulting from the hydrophobic channel walls. In contrast, the purge valve with vacuum-filled grooves adjacent to a liquid channel, termed gas-permeation (GP) valve, can be operated at pressure above 5.5 kPa. Based on the principle of gas permeation, the excessive air can be slowly removed through the vent grooves. Detailed evaluations of both valves in a pneumatically driven microfluidic chip were conducted. Specifically, the purge valves enable users to remove gas and passively align liquids at desired locations without using sensing devices or feedback circuits. Finally, a rapid mixing reaction was successfully performed with the GP valves, showing their practicability as incorporated in a microfluidic chip.


Nanoscience and Nanotechnology