Bio-inspired active fluidic systems based on stimuli-responsive materials
Diamond, Dermot and Florea, Larisa and Francis, Wayne and Tudor, Alexandru and Bruen, Danielle (2015) Bio-inspired active fluidic systems based on stimuli-responsive materials. In: 67th Irish Universities Chemistry Research Colloquium, 25-26 June 2015, Maynooth University, Ireland.
Full text available as:
The 1980s vision of low-cost autonomous chem/bio-sensing devices that can function reliably for years as components of implanted artificial organs, or as building blocks of widely distributed environmental sensor networks remains unrealised, despite huge investments in research effort and resources. In the 1990s, it was expected that microfluidics would provide a solution, by enabling advanced functions like calibration and sample processing to be integrated into a small, potentially mass produced chip . However, microfluidics essentially emerged from semiconductor fabrication technologies, and was based on principles largely borrowed from the hugely successful microelectronics industry. Today, the dominant use model for chem/bio-sensors is ‘use once and discard’, and while this can be relatively reliable, it normally involves manual sampling and is not a scalable model .
In recent years, the area of stimuli-responsive materials has grown rapidly, and many different modes of action have been demosntrated. In this paper, I will focus mainly, but not exclusively, on photo-responisve soft gels and micro-vehicles based on hydrophobic droplets and show how they could be incorporated into microfluidic systems to replicate (albeit in a primitive way) some functions of our own biological circulation systems . Through such concpets, it may be possible to create futuristic analytical devices in which the fluidic system is much more than a means to transport samples and reagents to a detector. Rather, it becomes an active component in the device, capable of performing advanced functions like system status checking, leak/damage detection and self-repair/maintenance. In this manner, it may be possible to dramatically extend the functional lifetime of anaytical devices far beyond the current state of the art, and make progress towards relaising the 1980s vision for chem/bio-sensors.
Archive Staff Only: edit this record