Pumps and valves for microfluidics


Fraunhofer IPMS


"The power of a Micropump –
A big idea in a small package"

Dr. Christine Ruffert

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Nanoscopic Electrostatic Drives (NED)

How novel electrostatic drives (NED) works - advantages and further applications.

Pumps and valves for microfluidics

© Fraunhofer IPMS
3D projection of the active layer of the micropump
© Frauhofer IPMS
3D projection of the microvalve

Micropumps are increasingly entering wide areas of medical technology. For example, for the production of biopharmaceutical proteins, protein engineering, drug screening, and lab-on-a-chip systems. Micropumps are also a key component for point-of-care diagnostics and drug dosing. Compared to conventional pumps, micropumps have a much smaller dimension. At the same time, new drive solutions are needed to achieve the required pumping performance with small sizes and low energy consumption.

The Nano-E-Drive (NED) technology developed at the IPMS is a new actuator solution that eliminates the classic diaphragm-based design. The operating principle of the NED-based micropump is as follows: A structured bending beam is clamped on both sides. Thanks to its bending capability, it moves laterally in plane and thus causes a change in volume of the laterally defined cavities. Valves at the inlet and outlet of these cavities allow flow correction and thus the pumping of liquids or gases.

The bending actuators, which are electrostatically driven according to the NED principle, can be used as basic elements of micropumps, clamped on both sides for a pump effect and clamped on one side as a valve for flow regulation of liquids and gases in microchannels. Especially the combination of micropumps and microvalves for fluid control is well suited for the mentioned applications.

Advantages of NED based Micropumps

  • Microvolume actuation → Precision of the fluid volume dispensed with a pulse-free flow
  • Monolithic process → Permitting the of all the fluidic components, i.e. channels and pumping chambers (actuators and rectifying valves) in a unique process and independence of the design complexity
  • Versatility and Specification → Customized flow rates / pressure ratios possible, size tolerance of particles to be pumped, long term stability and low energy consumption
  • Integration → CMOS and RoHS compatibility of the process allows the integration of a complex architecture within the system, including e.g. the controller of the pumping device

Applications of NED based Micropumps

  • Micro cooling (e.g. in GPU/CPU)
  • Medical and pharmaceutical industry
  • Microrobotics
  • Point-of-care
  • Inkjet printing
  • Embedded lubrication