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The Discovery of a New Light-Activated Micropump

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Published on : Mar 12, 2019

Jiming Bao, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston said that laser can be used to move liquids in any direction. The new micropump based on this principle overcomes the limitations of the primitive small mechanical pump. This laser driven photoacoustic microfluidic pump is equipped to move fluids in multiple directions. It does so keeping the electrical contacts in place. The work is described in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A New Optofluidics Principle:

This experiment coupled photoacoustics with acoustic streaming and explained the use of laser to trigger a stream of liquid.

The latest work checked whether a laser pulse could generate an ultrasonic wave capable of creating a liquid stream. An ultrasonic wave generates when a pulse laser hits a tiny quartz plate implanted with gold nanoparticles. The new photoacoustic microfluidic pump based on this principle is made of a gold implanted plasmonic quartz plate. The researchers say that, any point on the plate can produce a long-lasting ultrasound wave. This wave is essentially directional and drives the fluid by means of acoustic streaming.

Wei-Kan Chu, a physicist and project leader at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH said that a better understanding of the micropump’s mechanism will open up something valuable. Although, researchers believe it has numerous practical applications. It can be of use in biomedical devices and drug delivery, and also in microfluidic and optofluidic research.

Bao said that the nanoparticles provide a nearly limitless target for the lasers. This is why it aims more accurately than a mechanical micropump. Chu believes the mechanisms of this device fabricated in his lab are still unclear. He said that we need to understand the science behind better to use its potential completely in practical applications.