Vacuum pressure generation via microfabricated converging-diverging nozzles for operation of automated pneumatic logic

Microfluidic devices with integrated pneumatic logic enable automated fluid handling without requiring external control instruments. These chips offer the additional advantage that they may be powered by vacuum and do not require an electricity source. This work describes a microfluidic converging-diverging (CD) nozzle optimized to generate vacuum at low input pressures, making it suitable for microfluidic applications including powering integrated pneumatic logic. It was found that efficient vacuum pressure was generated for high aspect ratios of the CD nozzle constriction (or throat) width to height and diverging angle of 3.6o . In specific, for an inlet pressure of 42.2 psia (290.8 kPa) and a volumetric flow rate of approximately 1700 sccm, a vacuum pressure of 8.03 psia (55.3 kPa) was generated. To demonstrate the capabilities of our converging - diverging nozzle device, we connected it to a vacuum powered peristaltic pump driven by integrated pneumatic logic and obtained tunable flow rates from 0 to 130 μL/min. Finally, we demonstrate a proof of concept system for use where electricity and vacuum pressure are not readily available by powering a CD nozzle with a bicycle tire pump and pressure regulator. This system is able to produce a stable vacuum sufficient to drive pneumatic logic, and could be applied to power automated microfluidics in limited resource settings.