1 Fluidic Array Systems and Technology Group, Biomedical Micro Systems Section, Department of Micro- and Nanotechnology, Technical University of Denmark2 Biomedical Micro Systems Section, Department of Micro- and Nanotechnology, Technical University of Denmark3 Department of Micro- and Nanotechnology, Technical University of Denmark4 ChemLabChip Group, LabChip Section, Department of Micro- and Nanotechnology, Technical University of Denmark5 LabChip Section, Department of Micro- and Nanotechnology, Technical University of Denmark6 Center for Intelligent Drug Delivery and Sensing Using Microcontainers and Nanomechanics, Center, Technical University of Denmark
Microfluidic applications hold promise for many different end‐users both within and outside, and across many different research communities. Despite the benefits of microfluidic approaches, adoption and implementation thereof is often hindered by practical issues. Microfluidic components which are more reliable and robust, and which address practical issues are required to encourage and allow non‐expert users, those not familiar with microfluidic fabrication methods, to adopt microfluidic approaches. The first practical challenge encountered by users of microfluidics is the creation of interconnections between microfluidic devices and the outside world. This challenge results from the lack of standards for interconnecting components and the scale disparity between typical microfluidic channel dimensions, microns to hundreds of microns, and the “macro” methods required to address these channels. A second practical challenge users face stems from the peripheral equipment, e.g. pumps, required to drive microfluidic devices. This equipment is often costly and bulky and results in limitations and restrictions on microfluidic device operation, such as the number of channels or devices which can be actuated or microscopic observation. To address the above issues interconnection and pumping solutions were developed. Methods for creating multiple, aligned, parallel and planar interconnections well suited to microscopy are described. Both reusable, non‐integrated, and permanent, integrated interconnection solutions are presented. The construction of twelve and eight channel miniaturized, mechanically actuated peristaltic pumps is also described. The small footprint of the pumps allows their placement adjacent to microfluidic devices and on microscope stages. The reusable, non‐integrated interconnection and miniaturized peristaltic pump solutions were then combined into modular microfluidic systems. One system provides high interconnection numbers/density and allows many possible configurations. Additionally, and apart from many other accounts of modular microfluidic solutions, methods for control and actuation of microfluidic networks built from the modular components is described. Prototypes of the microfluidic system have begun to be distributed to external collaborators and researcher parties. These end‐users will assist in the validation of the approach and ultimately fulfil the key driver for development of such a system: providing a practical method for collection of relevant and novel biochemical and biological data from microfluidic devices.