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Published July 1, 2004 | public
Journal Article

An Electrochemical Pumping System for On-Chip Gradient Generation


Within the context of microfluidic systems, it has been difficult to devise pumping systems that can deliver adequate flow rates at high pressure for applications such as HPLC. An on-chip electrochemical pumping system based on electrolysis that offers certain advantages over designs that utilize electroosmotic driven flow has been fabricated and tested. The pump was fabricated on both silicon and glass substrates using photolithography. The electrolysis electrodes were formed from either platinum or gold, and SU8, an epoxy-based photoresist, was used to form the pump chambers. A glass cover plate and a poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) gasket were used to seal the chambers. Filling of the chambers was accomplished by using a syringe to inject liquid via filling ports, which were later sealed using a glass cover plate. The current supplied to the electrodes controlled the rate of gas formation and, thus, the resulting fluid flow rate. At low backpressures, flow rates >1 μL/min have been demonstrated using <1 mW of power. Pumping at backpressures as high as 200 psi have been demonstrated, with 20 nL/min having been observed using <4 mW. By integrating two electrochemical pumps with a polymer electrospray nozzle, we have confirmed the successful generation of a solvent gradient via a mass spectrometer.

Additional Information

© 2004 American Chemical Society. Received 7 October 2003; accepted 1 March 2004; published online 15 May 2004; published in print 1 July 2004. This work was supported by grants from the Public Health Services (NIH RR06217 and CA33752). We thank Roger E. Moore for assistance with some of the mass spectrometry experiments.

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