US20080245424A1 - Micro fluid transfer system - Google Patents

Micro fluid transfer system Download PDF

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US20080245424A1
US20080245424A1 US12072133 US7213308A US2008245424A1 US 20080245424 A1 US20080245424 A1 US 20080245424A1 US 12072133 US12072133 US 12072133 US 7213308 A US7213308 A US 7213308A US 2008245424 A1 US2008245424 A1 US 2008245424A1
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Prior art keywords
elongate body
fluid
bores
micro
rod
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Abandoned
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US12072133
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Stephen C. Jacobsen
Shayne M. Zurn
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Sterling Investments
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Sterling Investments
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    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F04POSITIVE DISPLACEMENT MACHINES FOR LIQUIDS; PUMPS FOR LIQUIDS OR ELASTIC FLUIDS
    • F04BPOSITIVE DISPLACEMENT MACHINES FOR LIQUIDS; PUMPS
    • F04B19/00Machines or pumps having pertinent characteristics not provided for in, or of interest apart from, groups F04B1/00 - F04B17/00
    • F04B19/006Micropumps
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T137/00Fluid handling
    • Y10T137/8593Systems
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T137/00Fluid handling
    • Y10T137/8593Systems
    • Y10T137/85978With pump
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T29/00Metal working
    • Y10T29/49Method of mechanical manufacture

Abstract

A micro fluid transfer system for transferring fluid within a micro-environment, wherein the micro fluid transfer system comprises: (a) an elongate body having first and second ends and an outer surface; (b) a plurality of bores formed within the elongate body, the bores extending along at least a portion of a length of the elongate body for carrying fluid therein; and (c) at least one interconnecting slot intercepting at least two of the plurality of bores within the elongate body at a strategic, pre-determined location and orientation so as to fluidly connect the at least two bores and to define a plurality of potential fluid passageways through the elongate body. The micro fluid transfer system further comprises at least one access slot intercepting one of the plurality of bores within the elongate body at a strategic, pre-determined location and orientation so that the access slot and the bore are in fluid communication with one another, the access slot further defining additional potential fluid passageways within the elongate body. The micro fluid transfer system further comprises at least one rod disposed within each of the plurality of bores, the rod being selectively positioned to define a particular pre-determined fluid passageway and subsequent fluid flow path and to manipulate and control fluid flow through the fluid flow path.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/903,139, filed Feb. 22, 2007, and entitled, “Micro Fluid Transfer System,” which is incorporated by reference in its entirety herein.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to fluid management systems, such as pumps, valves, etc., and more particularly to micro fluid management or transfer systems, such as micro pumps, micro valves, micro motors, etc., and their fabrication thereof, wherein the micro fluid management systems are configured and designed to control fluid flow in micro or micro-miniature environments. The present invention also relates to micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) and a variety of microfluidic devices.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION AND RELATED ART
  • The field of micro fluidics, relating to micro fluidic devices, such as micro pumps, micro valves, micro motors, etc. has gained significant momentum in light of recent technological advances that have enabled functioning fluid transport or transfer systems to be formed and operable within a micro miniature environment. The several realized and potential applications for such technology have further fueled interest in micro fluidic devices.
  • Micro fluidic devices allow for the manipulation of extremely small volumes of liquids to perform work or other tasks. Micro fluidic devices include a variety of components for manipulating and analyzing the fluid within the devices. Typically, these elements are micro fabricated from substrates made of silicon, glass, ceramic, plastic, and/or quartz. These various fluid-processing components are linked by micro channels, etched into the same substrate, through which the fluid flows under the control of a fluid propulsion mechanism. Electronic components may also be fabricated on the substrate, allowing sensors and controlling circuitry to be incorporated in the same device. Because all of the components are made using conventional photolithographic techniques, multi-component devices can be readily assembled into complex, integrated systems.
  • One problem associated with prior related micro fluidic devices or systems is the difficulty in fluidly connecting interior portions to exterior portions, such as is the case in forming various ports, such as input and output ports. Although forming various fluid passageways through pumps and valves is easily accomplished in regular pumps and valves, common approaches have proven unworkable in micro miniature environments. Indeed, it is difficult to drill or machine a hole into a glass tube using common manufacturing methods. As such, micro fluid devices or systems have been limited in their size by present manufacturing methods, which size limitation results in a corresponding limitation in their applications. In other words, there remain several potential applications in which a micro miniature fluid transfer system may be used if improvements in manufacturing methods can be achieved to the point where the system is able to be made significantly smaller.
  • The development of micro fluidic devices, such as micro pumps, has given rise to one particular application, namely what is commonly referred to as lab on a chip technology, which may provide many significant advances in medical, industrial, and other fields. Indeed, many attempts have been made to incorporate micro fluidic devices on a chip by miniaturizing the fluid transfer elements capable of performing the fluid transfer functions.
  • Many micro fluidic devices are driven by electromagnetic and piezoelectric forces. Others may be driven by pneumatic, thermal-pneumatic, thermal-electric, shape memory alloy, and other forces.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • In light of the problems and deficiencies inherent in the prior art, the present invention seeks to overcome these by providing a micro fluid transfer system configured for use in micro environments and configured to provide simple and efficient pumping and valving operations.
  • One way in which the present invention may overcome deficiencies in the prior art is by replacing drilled or machined access holes in the side of a micro pump or micro valve body with slots which access one or more bores formed within the elongate body. Slots may be created with a variety of methods and are easier to manufacture in the micro environment. The slots can then be covered or isolated with a containment system, which system acts to create fluid pathways and control the flow of fluid in the desired manner.
  • In accordance with one exemplary embodiment, as embodied and broadly described herein, the present invention features a micro fluid transfer system for transferring fluid within a micro-environment, wherein the micro fluid transfer system comprises: (a) an elongate body having first and second ends and an outer surface; (b) a plurality of bores formed within the elongate body, the bores extending along at least a portion of a length of the elongate body for carrying fluid therein; and (c) at least one interconnecting slot intercepting at least two of the plurality of bores within the elongate body at a strategic, pre-determined location and orientation so as to fluidly connect the at least two bores and to define a plurality of potential fluid passageways through the elongate body.
  • The micro fluid transfer system further comprises at least one access slot intercepting one of the plurality of bores within the elongate body at a strategic, pre-determined location and orientation so that the access slot and the bore are in fluid communication with one another, the access slot further defining additional potential fluid passageways within the elongate body.
  • The micro fluid transfer system further comprises at least one rod disposed within each of the plurality of bores, the rod being selectively positioned to define a particular pre-determined fluid passageway and subsequent fluid flow path and to manipulate and control fluid flow through the fluid flow path.
  • The micro fluid transfer system still further comprises a housing configured to enclose and contain the elongate body, wherein the housing comprises: (i) an interior portion configured to receive the elongate body; (ii) a plurality of seals sealing the housing to the elongate body to prevent inadvertent fluid flow between the housing and the elongate body; and (iii) at least one fluid passageway formed in the housing and in fluid connection with the elongate body for passing fluid through the housing.
  • The present invention also features a micro fluid pump comprising: (a) an elongate body having a plurality of bores formed therein that extend along at least a portion of a length of the elongate body for carrying fluid therein; (b) at least one interconnecting slot intercepting at least two of the bores at a strategic, pre-determined location and orientation so as to fluidly interconnect the at least two bores; (c) at least one access slot intercepting one of the bores at a strategic, pre-determined location and orientation so as to be in fluid communication with the bore, the plurality of bores, the interconnecting slot, and the at least one access slot function to define a plurality of fluid passageways through the elongate body; (d) at least one rod slidably disposed within each of the plurality of bores, respectively, the rod comprising at least one recess therein for facilitating fluid flow about a selected fluid flow path upon being selectively positioned within the bore; and (e) means for actuating the at least one rod to displace the rod into a position to define a particular, pre-determined fluid flow passageway and fluid flow path and to pump fluid through the pre-determined fluid flow passageway.
  • The micro fluid pump further comprises repositioning the at least one rod to define another pre-determined fluid flow passageway and fluid flow path.
  • The present invention further features a method of manufacturing a micro fluid transfer system, wherein the method comprises: (a) forming an elongate body having first and second ends; (b) forming a plurality of bores within the elongate body, the bores extending along at least a portion of a length of the elongate body for carrying fluid therein; and (c) forming an interconnect slot within the elongate body to intercept and fluidly interconnect at least two of the plurality of bores, thus defining a plurality of potential fluid passageways through the elongate body.
  • The method further comprises forming at least one access slot within the elongate body that intercepts and fluidly connects one of the plurality of bores, the access slot further defining additional potential fluid passageways.
  • The present invention still further features a method for transferring fluid flow within a micro-environment, wherein the method comprises: (a) providing a micro fluid transfer system comprising: (i) an elongate body having first and second ends; (ii) a plurality of bores formed in the elongate body, the bores extending along at least a portion of a length of the elongate body for carrying fluid therein; (iii) at least one slot intercepting at least one of the plurality of bores at a pre-determined location and orientation so as to define a plurality of potential fluid passageways through the elongate body; and (iv) at least one rod slidably disposed within each of the plurality of bores, the at least one rod being selectively positionable within each of the bores to define a plurality of particular pre-determined fluid flow paths; (b) subjecting the micro fluid transfer system to a micro-environment containing, at least in part, a fluid; and (c) actuating the at least one rod to displace into a position within the bore to define a particular pre-determined fluid flow passageway and fluid flow path through which the fluid is transferred.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The present invention will become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. Understanding that these drawings merely depict exemplary embodiments of the present invention they are, therefore, not to be considered limiting of its scope. It will be readily appreciated that the components of the present invention, as generally described and illustrated in the figures herein, could be arranged and designed in a wide variety of different configurations. Nonetheless, the invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:
  • FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a micro fluid transfer system according to one exemplary embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of a micro fluid transfer system according to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 3 illustrates a perspective view of a micro fluid transfer system according to still another exemplary embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 4 illustrates a perspective view of a micro fluid transfer system, similar that that of FIG. 3-A, yet still another exemplary embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIGS. 5-A-5-D illustrates the exemplary micro fluid transfer system of FIG. 3-A configured as a micro-pump, and the several operational stages of the micro fluid transfer system and its components in performing an exemplary pumping cycle;
  • FIG. 6 illustrates a perspective view of a micro fluid transfer system according to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 7 illustrates a perspective view of a micro fluid transfer system according to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIGS. 8-A-8-C illustrate perspective side and front views, respectively, of a micro fluid transfer system as contained within a potting mold;
  • FIG. 9 illustrates a perspective view of a micro fluid transfer system according to still another exemplary embodiment of the present invention; and
  • FIG. 10 illustrates a perspective view of a micro fluid transfer system according to still another exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION AND EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS
  • The following detailed description of exemplary embodiments of the invention makes reference to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof and in which are shown, by way of illustration, exemplary embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. While these exemplary embodiments are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art practice the invention, it should be understood that other embodiments may be realized and that various changes to the invention may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Thus, the following more detailed description of the embodiments of the present invention, as represented in FIGS. 1 through 10, is not intended to limit the scope of the invention, as claimed, but is presented for purposes of illustration only and not limitation to describe the features and characteristics of the present invention, to set forth the best mode of operation of the invention, and to sufficiently enable one skilled in the art to practice the invention. Accordingly, the scope of the present invention is to be defined solely by the appended claims.
  • The following detailed description and exemplary embodiments of the invention will be best understood by reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein the elements and features of the invention are designated by numerals throughout.
  • In its most general sense, and common to each of the embodiments discussed below, the present invention features a micro fluid transfer system comprising an elongate body, typically in the form of a solid body structure, wherein the elongate body has formed therein one or more longitudinal bores or bores. The elongate body further has formed therein one or more ports or slots caused to be in fluid connection with the one or more bores. The ports or slots are configured to intercept the bores at a strategic, pre-determined location and orientation so as to define a plurality of potential fluid passageways through said elongate body. The micro fluid transfer system may be designed and configured to function as a micro pump, a micro valve, a micro sensor, and as other micro fluidic devices.
  • One particular advantage of the present invention is the ability to manufacture micro miniature fluid transfer systems that can be used in applications previously unattainable by prior related micro fluid transfer systems. The micro fluid transfer systems of the present invention may be made much smaller due to the unique manufacturing techniques or methods employed to form the micro fluid transfer systems of the present invention. Using such methods or techniques, very small operating systems, such as pumps and valves, may be caused to operate in various areas of interest, such as to create new MEMS devices, to provide lab under a chip operations, to be used as an implantable system, and others. Indeed, an attractive application is implantable micro fluidic devices that are capable of being inserted into the human body for one or more purposes, such as drug delivery.
  • The micro fluid transfer system further comprises one or more rods configured to be slidably disposed within one or more of the bores, respectively. The rods are configured to be selectively positioned and repositioned to define various particular and pre-determined fluid passageways and subsequent fluid flow paths through the elongate body, and particularly through the bore(s) and the port(s), and to manipulate and control the flow of the fluid through the elongate body. Essentially, movement and positioning of the rods dictates the movement of the fluid through the micro fluid transfer system.
  • With reference to FIG. 1, shown is a micro fluid transfer system according to a first exemplary embodiment, wherein the micro fluid transfer system comprises a single bore design configured for simple fluid flow management. As shown, the micro fluid transfer system 10 may function as a micro-pump or a micro-valve, depending upon the configurational design of the elongate body and the rods. In a first exemplary aspect or configurational design, the micro fluid transfer system 10 is configured to function as a micro-pump. Specifically, the micro fluid transfer system 10 comprises an elongate body 14 having a first end 18, a second end 22, an outer surface 26, and an outer diameter do. Formed longitudinally within the elongate body 14 is a single bore 30 of circular cross-section having a diameter di. The bore 30 comprises a central axis that is preferably oriented to be coaxial with the central longitudinal axis of the elongate body 14, thus positioning the bore 30 within the center of the elongate body 14. However, the bore 30 may further be formed so that its central axis is offset from the longitudinal axis of the elongate body 14 in any direction.
  • The elongate body 14 further comprises an input port 40 and an output port 44. Input and output ports 40 and 44 are formed within the elongate body transverse to the bore 30. Moreover, input and output ports 40 and 44 extend from the outer surface 26 of the elongate body 14 to the bore 30. Thus, input and output ports 40 and 44 are fluidly connected to the bore 30. Input and output ports 40 and 44 further function to fluidly connect the bore 30 to the environment immediately surrounding the elongate body 14, or to a housing or tube or other structure associated with the ports 40 and 44.
  • With reference to all of the embodiments discussed herein, unless otherwise noted, the elongate body comprises a micro miniature size, preferably ranging from 1000-2000 micrometers in diameter, and from 10,000-20,000 micrometers in length (1-2 cm). Other micro-miniature sizes are also contemplated in keeping with the objectives and intentions or purpose of the present invention. In addition, the elongate body is preferably made of a glass material. Other materials are also contemplated, such as ceramic materials consisting of oxides, carbides, nitrides, carbon and other non-metals with high melting points; quartz materials; alumina materials; mica materials; dolomite materials; zircon materials; magnesium oxide materials, sapphire materials, monolithic materials; calcium materials; nitride materials; spinel materials, and others not specifically recited herein.
  • The micro fluid transfer system 10 further comprises one or more rods fittable and slidably disposed within the bore 30 of the elongate body 14. As shown, the micro fluid transfer system 10 comprises two separate rods, namely piston rods 48-a and 48-b , that are configured to selectively displace back and forth within the bore 30 to achieve specific positions to pump fluid accordingly. Selectively positioning each of the piston rods 48-a and 48-b within the bore 30 and about the input and output ports 40 and 44 functions to control the fluid flow through the elongate body 14, and particularly through the bore 30 and the input and output ports 40 and 44.
  • Moreover, controlling the displacement of each of the piston rods 48-a and 48-b relative to one another functions to actively pump fluid through the fluid transfer system 10. As such, the present invention further comprises various means for actuating or oscillating the piston and valve rods in a selective manner to control the flow of fluid through the bores and any fluid passageways intercepting and fluidly connecting the bores to the outside surface of the elongate body. In one exemplary embodiment, the rods are caused to be operable with a magnetic source, wherein a magnet may be selectively actuated to drive the rods, each comprising a metal component coupled thereto. In another exemplary embodiment, the rods are driven by a solenoid operable with each rod. By configuring the rods with a metallic component, a solenoid may be operably coupled to each of the first and second ends of the elongate body, wherein the solenoid may be actuated by supplying a current thereto to selectively control the bi-directional movement of the rods within the bores. In still another exemplary embodiment, an electromechanical system may be utilized to drive or oscillate the rods.
  • The piston rods 48-a and 48-b are configured with an outer diameter dr that is slightly less then the diameter di of the bore 30, thereby allowing the rods 48 to fit and slide within the bore 30. The piston rods 48-a and 48-b and the inside surface of the bore 30 may be configured to comprise a clearance tolerance therebetween that prohibits fluid flow over the respective ends and about the respective surfaces 62-a and 62-b of the piston rods 48-a and 48-b , or that allows a pre-determined flow of fluid over the ends and about the surfaces 62-a and 62-b of the piston rods 48-a and 48-b , depending upon the particular flow requirements of the overall system in which the micro fluid transfer system 10 is implemented.
  • With reference to all of the embodiments discussed herein, unless otherwise noted, the rods (piston or valve) are also micro miniature in size, typically ranging from 200-300 micrometers in diameter, and from 10,000-30,000 micrometers (1-3 cm) in length. Other micro-miniature sizes are also contemplated, again in keeping with the teachings of the present invention.
  • Piston rods 48-a and 48-b are comprised of a glass material, although other materials may be used in their fabrication, such as those recited above in the discussion pertaining to the elongate body 14.
  • In an exemplary pumping operation using the exemplary single, centrally located bore embodiment of the micro fluid transfer system 10 shown in FIG. 1 and described herein, four steps may be described that define a single micro-pumping cycle. First, as an initial step, the second end 52-a of the piston rod 48-a is positioned left of the input port 40, as is the first end 50-b of the piston rod 48-b , thus closing both the input and output ports 40 and 44. In a second step, the piston rod 48-b is caused to displace away from the piston rod 48-a and the input port 40, thus opening the input port 40 and drawing fluid into the bore 30 through the input port 40. The piston rod 48-b is displaced a distance such that its first end 50-b is located to the right of the output port 44, thus opening the output port 44. In a third step, the piston rod 48-a is caused to displace toward the piston rod 48-b and the output port 44. The displacement of piston rod 48-a in this manner effectively closes the input port 40 and subsequently forces the input fluid through the bore 30 and out of the output port 44. The piston rod 48-a may be displaced until all or a portion of the fluid is expelled from the system 10. In a fourth step, the piston rods 48-a and 48-b are brought into the initial starting position described in step one, and the process is repeated, thus allowing fluid to be pumped in a micro-miniature environment.
  • In effect, selectively positioning and repositioning the rods 48-a and 48-b as needed about or with respect to the input and output ports 40 and 44 functions to open and close, and thereby regulate the flow of fluid through, these ports and the elongate body 14. Stated differently, the selective positioning of the piston rods 48-a and 48-b functions to create various fluid passageways within the micro fluid transfer system 10 through which the fluid is intended to travel. For instance, to open the input port 40 and close the output port 44, the piston rod 48-a may be positioned so that its end 52-a is positioned forward of the input port 40, or left of the input port 40 as shown in FIG. 1, and the piston rod 48-b may be positioned so that the output port 44 is between the first end 50-b and the second end 52-b of the piston rod 48-b . In this configuration, fluid may flow through the input port only. Obviously, other configurations are possible, such as opening or closing both the input and output ports 40 and 44 simultaneously, or closing the input port 40 and opening the output port 44, or vice versa, simply by positioning and re-positioning or relocating the piston rods 48-a and 48-b within the bore 30. The selective positioning and re-positioning or relocating of the piston rods 48-a and 48-b within the bore 30 may be performed as often as necessary to create a desired fluid passageway and corresponding fluid flow path in and out of and within the micro fluid transfer system 10.
  • It is noted that piston rods 48-a and 48-b may be configured to perform one or more passive valving functions in addition to or rather than the active pumping functions described above, as will be obvious to one skilled in the art.
  • FIG. 1 also illustrates an alternative exemplary configurational design for the micro fluid transfer system 10, wherein piston rods 48-a and 48-b discussed above are replaced with a single valve rod, shown as valve rod 66, and two ports are added, shown as output ports 40-a and 44-a which are fluidly connected to the bore 30. Instead of being used to cause the system 10 to actively pump fluid, this alternative configuration allows the micro fluid transfer system 10 to operate in a passive state as a micro-valve. Valve rod 66 functions in a similar manner as the combination valve rods 48-a and 48-b , namely to manage the fluid flow through the bore 30 and the input port 40 and (now input port) 44 and the additional output ports 40-a and 44-a of the elongate body 14. Output ports 40-a and 44-a may be positioned to line up directly with input ports 40 and 44, or they may be offset, as shown in FIG. 1.
  • Valve rod 66 comprises a recessed portion 74 etched or otherwise formed in its surface 72. Recessed portion 74 comprises a reduced cross-sectional area, or smaller diameter, than the cross-sectional area or diameter of the rest of the valve rod 66. Positioning the valve rod 66 so that the recessed portion 74 is aligned with the input port 40 and output port 40-a effectively functions to open that port by providing a path for fluid flow. The recessed portion 74 may also be selectively positioned over the input port 44 and output port 44-a to selectively open and close those ports as desired. Therefore, pressurized fluid is allowed to flow through the system 10 according to the position of the valve rod 66. Alternatively, the valve rod 66 may comprise a second recessed portion, shown in phantom as recessed portion 74-b , properly formed in the surface 72 of the valve rod 66, thus reducing the distance the valve rod must travel to regulate or manage fluid flow through the bore 30 and the input ports 40 and 44 and output ports 40-a and 44-a.
  • With reference to FIG. 2, shown is a micro fluid transfer system according to a second exemplary embodiment, wherein the micro fluid transfer system comprises a dual bore design configured for micro fluid flow transfer and management. As shown, the micro fluid transfer system 110 may function as a micro-pump or a micro-valve, depending upon the configurational design and function of the system and the rods, as explained below.
  • In a first exemplary aspect or configurational design, the micro fluid transfer system 110 is configured to function as a micro-pump. Specifically, the micro fluid transfer system 110 comprises an elongate body 114 having a first end 118, a second end 122, an outer surface 126, and an outer diameter do. Formed longitudinally within the elongate body 114 is a first bore 130 of circular cross-section having a diameter di1. Although the first bore 130 may extend the length of the elongate body 114, it is shown extending only partially the length of the elongate body 114. In this manner, the elongate body 114 functions as a barrier to fluid flow through the first bore 130. Also formed longitudinally within the elongate body 114 is a second bore 132. The second bore 132 is also of circular cross-section having a diameter di2. Again, although the second bore 132 may extend the length of the elongate body 114, it is shown extending only partially the length of the elongate body 114. As such, the longitudinal or central axis of the first and second bores 130 and 132 are offset from and parallel to one another.
  • The elongate body 114 further comprises an input port 140 and an output port 144. Input and output ports 140 and 144 are formed within the elongate body transverse to the first and second bores 130 and 132. Moreover, input and output ports 140 and 144 extend from the outer surface 126 of the elongate body 114 and through the first and second bores 130 and 132. Thus, input and output ports 140 and 144 are fluidly connected to each of the first and second bore 130 and 132. Input and output ports 140 and 144 also fluidly connect the first bore 130 to the second bore 132, as shown. Input and output ports 140 and 144 further function to fluidly connect the first and second bores 130 and 132 to the environment immediately surrounding the elongate body 114, or to a housing or tube or other structure associated with the ports 140 and 144.
  • The micro fluid transfer system 110 further comprises one or more rods fittable and slidably disposed within the first and second bores 130 and 132 of the elongate body 114. As shown, the micro fluid transfer system 110 comprises two separate rods, namely piston rod 148 and valve rod 166. Piston rod 148 is configured to selectively displace back and forth within the first bore 130 to achieve specific positions to pump fluid accordingly. Piston rod 148 preferably comprises a uniform cross-section.
  • On the other hand, valve rod 166 is configured to selectively displace back and forth within the second bore 132 to open and close the input and output ports 140 and 144. The valve rod 166 comprises a substantially uniform cross-section with one or more recesses formed therein, shown as first and second recesses 174-a and 174-b , which function to allow fluid to flow through the input and output ports 140 and 144 when aligned therewith due to their reduced cross-section. Recesses 174-a and 174-b are configured to comprise a pre-determined and appropriate length as will be recognized by one skilled in the art. In essence, piston rod 148 and valve rod 166 are designed to work in conjunction with one another to achieve various pumping and/or valving states within the micro fluid transfer system 110.
  • Selectively positioning each of the piston and valve rods 148 and 166 within the first and second bores 130 and 132, respectively, and about the input and output ports 140 and 144 functions to control the fluid flow through the elongate body 114, and particularly through the bores 130 and 132, as well as the input and output ports 140 and 144. The system 10 can be operated as a pump or as a valve, depending upon the configuration and active/passive state of the rods.
  • Similar to the rods discussed above, the piston and valve rods 148 and 166 are configured with an outer diameter dr1 and dr2, respectively, that are slightly less then the diameters di1 and di2 of the first and second bores 130 and 132, respectively, thereby allowing the rods 148 and 166 to fit and slide within their respective bores. The piston rod 148 and the inside surface of the bore 130 may be configured to comprise a clearance tolerance therebetween that prohibits fluid flow over the end 152 and about the surface 154 of the piston rod 148, or that allows a pre-determined flow of fluid over the end 152 and about the surface 154 of the piston rod 148, depending upon the particular flow requirements of the overall system in which the micro fluid transfer system 110 is implemented. Likewise, the valve rod 166 and the inside surface of the bore 132 may be configured to comprise a clearance tolerance therebetween that prohibits fluid flow over the end 168 and about the surface 172 of the valve rod 166, or that allows a pre-determined flow of fluid over the ends and about the surfaces 172 of the valve rod 166.
  • In an exemplary micro pumping operation using the dual bore micro fluid transfer system 110 shown in FIG. 2 and described herein, four steps may be described that define a single pumping cycle. First, as an initial step, the piston rod 148 is positioned such that it is all the way or substantially into the first bore 130. Conversely, the valve rod 166 is positioned such that the first recess 174-a is aligned with the intake port 140, thus opening the intake port 140. The output port 144 is therefore closed. In a second step, with the valve rod 166 held stationary, the piston rod 166 is caused to displace towards the opening of the first bore 130, which action draws fluid in through the input port 140 and into the first bore 130. In a third step, with the piston rod 148 held stationary, the valve rod 166 is repositioned or realigned so that the second recess portion 174-b is aligned with the output port 144, thus opening the output port 144 and closing the input port 140. In the fourth step, with the output port 144 thus opened, the piston rod 148 is caused to displace again into the first bore 130. Displacing the piston rod 148 in this manner functions to force or expel the fluid input into the first bore 130 out of the output port 144. These steps are repeated as often as necessary and at any frequency to achieve a desired pumping operation.
  • In an exemplary micro-valving operation, using the dual bore micro fluid transfer system 110 shown in FIG. 2 and described herein, the piston rod 148 is eliminated (with the first bore 130 plugged) or held constant at a position allowing the input and output ports 140 and 144 to be fluidly connected. On the other hand, the valve rod 166 is caused to displace to open and close the input and output ports 140 and 144 in order to manage or regulate the flow of pressurized fluid through the system 110.
  • It will be obvious that the present invention micro fluid transfer system may comprise a plurality of both input and output ports, as well as a plurality of bores, each formed within the elongate body. It will also be obvious to one skilled in the art that the input and output ports may be located anywhere along the length of the elongated body, and that the bores may be positioned in any position relative to one another. The number of bores may determine the number of rods needed to operate the micro fluid transfer system. In addition, the number and location of input and output ports may determine the type and configuration of the rods necessary to operate the system.
  • With reference to FIGS. 3-A and 3-B, illustrated is a micro fluid transfer system 210 according to a third exemplary embodiment of the present invention. In this particular exemplary embodiment, the elongate body 214 comprises a first end 218, a second end 222, an outer surface 226, and an outer diameter do. Formed longitudinally within the elongate body 214 is a first bore 230 of circular cross-section having a diameter di1. Also formed longitudinally within the elongate body 214 is a second bore 232. The second bore 232 is also of circular cross-section having a diameter di2. As such, the longitudinal or central axis of the first and second bores 230 and 232 are offset from and parallel to one another.
  • Also formed in the elongate body 214 are three slots, shown as interconnecting slot 280 and access slots 284 and 288. Interconnecting slot 280 is configured to fluidly connect the first bore 230 with the second bore 232. Interconnecting slot 280 is formed in the elongate body 214 by cutting or otherwise removing a thin slice of material from the elongate body 214 starting from the upper surface 226 and extending through the elongate body 214 until each of the first and second bores 230 and 232 are intercepted. In other words, a slot is initiated at the surface 226, and is extended until it intercepts each of the first and second bores 230 and 232. By forming a slot in this manner, the first and second bores 230 and 232 are not only in fluid communication with one another, but also with the upper surface 226, thus allowing them to fluidly communicate with the outside environment or a housing surrounding and encasing the elongate body 214, such as a housing having input and output ports therein.
  • In a preferred aspect, interconnecting slot 280 may be formed so that its orientation is transverse or perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the first and second bores 230 and 232. In this orientation, and in the embodiment shown, the interconnecting slot 280 comprises a cut extending substantially half-way through the elongate body 214, and thus substantially half-way through each of the first and second bores 230 and 232, as each of these are shown symmetrically and centrally located within the elongate body 214. However, no matter the location or orientation of the first and second bores 230 and 232, the interconnecting slot 280 may be formed to still fluidly interconnect these two bores. Essentially, no matter their location within the elongate body 214, it is intended that first and second bores 230 and 232 be fluidly connected by interconnecting slot 280. Alternatively, interconnecting slot 280 may be formed at other orientations with respect to the longitudinal axis of the first and second bores 230 and 232, such as at an oblique orientation, as will be recognized and obvious to those skilled in the art.
  • On the other hand, the access slots 284 and 288 are configured to fluidly connect a single bore to the outside surface 226, namely the first and second bores 230 or 232, respectively, to the upper surface 226. In the embodiment shown, the access slot 284 is configured to fluidly connect the first bore 230 to the upper surface 226, as shown. The access slot 284 comprises a thin cut extending from the upper surface 226, through the elongate body 214, and to the first bore 230 where it intersects the first bore 230. Unlike the interconnecting slot 280, the access slot 284 is oriented so that it intercepts only a single bore, namely first bore 230. In this manner, the access slot 284 fluidly connects the first bore 230 with the upper surface 226 of the elongate body. In addition, the access slot 284 is fluidly connected to the interconnecting slot 280 via the first bore 230. FIG. 3-B illustrates the orientation and intersection of both the interconnecting slot 280 and the access slot 284. Access slot 284 may be configured to function as a fluid input port or a fluid output port.
  • Likewise, the access slot 288 is configured to fluidly connect the second bore 232 to the upper surface 226, as shown, in a similar manner as the access slot 284. Access slot 288 may be configured to function as a fluid input port or a fluid output port.
  • In a preferred aspect, access slots 284 and 288 may be formed so that their orientation is also transverse or perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the first and second bores 230 and 232, respectively. In this orientation, and in the embodiment shown, the access slots 284 and 288 comprise a cut extending through the elongate body 214 to a point substantially half-way through the first and second bores 230 and 232, respectively. Alternatively, the access slots 284 and 288 may be formed at other orientations with respect to the longitudinal axis of the first and second bores 230 and 232, such as at an oblique orientation, as will be recognized and obvious to those skilled in the art.
  • Interconnecting slot 280 and access slots 284 and 288 may comprise any size necessary for any given operating environment. However, the slots are typically between 500-1,500 micrometers in width. Of course, other sizes are possible and are contemplated herein, depending upon the intended application for the micro fluid transfer system, various system requirements, design constraints, and the size of the overall micro fluid transfer system.
  • As shown in FIG. 3, the exemplary micro fluid transfer system 210 comprises a single interconnecting slot 280, an access slot 284, and an access slot 288, each utilized within a dual bore system. However, as will be obvious to one skilled in the art, the micro fluid transfer system 210 may comprise a plurality of slots in the form of interconnecting slots and/or access slots. In addition, the elongate body may comprise a single bore, or more than two bores, each associated with one or more interconnecting and/or access slots.
  • The present invention micro fluid transfer system further features or comprises a fluid containment system for sealing the elongate body, and particularly the various input/output ports or slots, and bores formed in the elongate body. With reference to FIG. 4, illustrated is one exemplary fluid containment system utilized for sealing the slots and bores formed in the elongate body of an exemplary micro fluid transfer system similar to the one described above and shown in FIG. 3-A. In this embodiment, the fluid containment system comprises various silicone rubber components molded to fit about the elongate body of the micro fluid transfer system. As shown, the micro fluid transfer system 310 comprises an elongate body 314 having a dual bore configuration, namely first and second bores 330 and 332 that extend through the elongate body 314 and that function as discussed above. The elongate body further has formed therein access slots 384 and 388, and an interconnecting slot 380. As part of the containment system, end cap 390 is configured to removably fit over the first end 318 of the elongate body. The end cap 390 comprises a sidewall 392 extending from an end portion 394, thus allowing the end cap 390 to properly fit over and seal against the outer surface 326 of the elongate body 314. Formed in the end portion 394 are aperture locations 396-a and 396-b that correspond to and align with the first and second bores 330 and 332, respectively. Each of the apertures locations 396-a and 396-b may be plugged to seal one end of bores 330 and 332, respectively, or may be configured to receive therethrough and seal a piston or valve rod for and during operation of the micro fluid system 310, while still facilitating the selective displacement of the rods.
  • Opposite the end cap 390 is a sleeve 398 configured to removably fit over the second end 322 of the elongate body 314 and to conceal the slots formed therein. The sleeve 398 also comprises a sidewall 400 that extends from an end portion 402, thus forming an end cap. Formed within the end portion 402 are apertures 404-a and 404-b that align with the first and second bores 330 and 332, respectively, and that function similar to the apertures formed in the end cap 390 discussed above. Apertures 404-a and 404-b may be sealed if necessary to prevent inadvertent fluid flow. Sleeve 398 is large enough in size so as to fit over the slots formed in the elongate body 314, thus containing the fluid flowing through these slots in a controlled manner. The sleeve 398 further comprises an input tube 406 and an output tube 408 extending from the sidewall 400. The input tube 406 is configured to align with and fluidly connect to the access port 384 when the sleeve 398 is properly in place about the elongate body 314. Likewise, the output tube 408 is configured to align with and fluidly connect to the access port 388 when the sleeve 398 is properly in place about the elongate body 314.
  • The sleeve 398 is further configured to contain the fluid flowing through the various slots formed in the elongate body 314. As can be seen, once the sleeve 398 is in place, fluid flow within and through the interconnecting slot 380 and also the access slots 384 and 388 is limited. In other words, the sleeve 398 functions to seal the interconnecting slot 380 and the access slots 384 and 388, and to prohibit fluid from flowing through these slots, except as intended. With respect to the interconnecting slot 380, fluid is still allowed to flow between the first and second bores 330 and 332 as directed by the positioning of the respective rods. The sleeve 398 simply functions to prohibit fluid from flowing out of the elongate body 314 through the interconnecting slot 380.
  • With respect to the access slots 384 and 388, once the sleeve 398 is properly fitted about the elongate body 314 and the micro fluid transfer system actuated, fluid is channeled into the micro fluid transfer system 310, and particularly the access port 384, through the input tube 406. As the system operates, fluid is expelled from the micro fluid transfer system 310, and particularly the access port 388, through the output tube 408. In this manner, fluid is properly contained within and about the micro fluid transfer system 310 and is only allowed to pass in and out of the system through these tubes. The input and output tubes 406 and 408 may be configured to be attached and fluidly connected to other appropriate structures within an overall system, as will be apparent to one skilled in the art.
  • With the fluid containment system of FIG. 4 in place, the micro fluid transfer system 210 shown in FIG. 3-A further comprises first and second rods fittable within the first and second bores 230 and 232, respectively. Depending upon the desired operating constraints, the rods may be valve rods or a combination of a piston rod and a valve rod. In one exemplary aspect in which the micro fluid transfer system is configured as micro-pump, such as the one shown in FIG. 3-A, and similar to the input and output ports discussed above, fluid flow through the interconnecting and access slots 280, 284, and 288, as well as the first and second bores 230 and 232, is controlled by a piston rod 248 and a valve rod 266 inserted into and selectively displaceable within the first and second bores 230 and 232, respectively. In a passive or low pressure environment, the piston rod 248 functions allow fluid to enter into the system through the access slot 284, functioning as an input port. The piston rod may be actuated to force the input fluid through a pre-determined fluid passageway (created or defined by the number and location of additional interconnecting and/or access slots and the positioning of the piston and valve rods within the first and second bores 230 and 232, respectively), and to eventually pump fluid out of the system 210. The valve rod 266 controls the path of the fluid and the regulation of the fluid being pumped out of the system by its recessed portion 274 being properly positioned about the interconnecting slot 280 and access slot 288, functioning as an output port. In another exemplary aspect, a second valve rod may be used in place of the piston rod, wherein the two valve rods function to control the flow of fluid through the micro fluid transfer system 210 in a pressurized fluid environment. Essentially, the rods displace within the slots to define a fluid passageway and to control or direct fluid flow therein or therethrough.
  • With reference to FIGS. 5-A-5-D, illustrated is the exemplary micro fluid transfer system 210 of FIG. 3-A configured as a micro-pump, and the several operational stages of the micro fluid transfer system 210 and its components in performing an exemplary pumping cycle. The micro fluid transfer system 210 comprises an elongate body 214 having a dual bore configuration, shown as bores 230 and 232.
  • FIG. 5-A illustrates an initial stage where the piston rod 248 is positioned to close off access slot 284, functioning as an input port, and where the valve rod 266 is positioned to close off the interconnecting slot 280 fluidly connecting the first and second bores 230 and 232, as well as the access port 288, functioning as an output port. In this initial stage, fluid is unable to flow into the system. FIG. 5-B illustrates a second stage of the cycle, wherein the piston rod 248 is actuated and is drawn substantially out of the first bore 230. Actuation of the piston rod 248 in this manner functions to open the access port 284, thus allowing or drawing fluid into the first bore 230, as indicated by the arrow. The valve rod 266 is in a similar position as that of stage one shown in FIG. 5-A. FIG. 5-C shows a third stage, wherein the valve rod 266 is actuated to position the recessed portion 270 about the interconnecting slot 280 and the access slot 288, thus allowing fluid to flow from the first bore 230 to the second bore 232, and opening the access port 288. The piston rod 248 is shown in the same position as that of stage two. FIG. 5-D shows the final stage, wherein the piston rod 448 is actuated to force the fluid from the first bore 230 to the second bore 232 via the interconnect port 280. With the access port 288 open, the fluid is expelled or pumped from the elongate body 214 and out of the system, as indicated by the arrows. Once all of the fluid is pumped from the system, the process repeats to achieve a cyclical pumping operation.
  • FIG. 6 illustrates another exemplary fluid containment system utilized for sealing the slots and bores formed in the elongate body of an exemplary micro fluid transfer system similar to the one described above and shown in FIG. 3-A. In this embodiment, the fluid containment system also comprises several silicone rubber components configured to removably fit about the elongate body of the micro fluid transfer system. As shown, the micro fluid transfer system 410 comprises an elongate body 414 having a dual bore configuration, namely first and second bores 430 and 432 that extend through the elongate body 414 and that function as discussed above. The elongate body further has formed therein access slots 484 and 488, and an interconnecting slot 480. These may be oriented as shown, or formed at different angles with respect to the longitudinal axis of the elongate body 414.
  • As part of the containment system, end cap 490 is configured to removably fit over the first end 418 of the elongate body. The end cap 490 comprises a sidewall 492 extending from an end portion 494, thus allowing the end cap 490 to properly fit over and seal against the outer surface 426 of the elongate body 414. Formed in the end portion 494 are aperture locations 496-a and 496-b that correspond and align with the first and second bores 430 and 432, respectively. Each of the aperture locations 496-a and 496-b may be plugged to seal one end of bores 430 and 432, respectively, or may be configured to receive therethrough and seal a piston or valve rod for and during operation of the micro fluid system 410, while still facilitating the selective displacement of the rods.
  • The fluid containment system further comprises a silicon tube or sleeve 498 configured to removably fit over the elongate body 414 and to conceal the interconnecting slot 480 and the access slots 484 and 488, thus limiting the flow of fluid within these slots. Unlike the embodiment shown in FIG. 5, the sleeve 498 is a separate component from the end cap 506. Furthermore, sleeve 498 comprises two apertures, namely input aperture 502-a and output aperture 502-b that are configured to align with and fluidly connect to the access slots 484 and 488, respectively. Removably fittable within these input and output apertures 502-a and 502-b are tubes 504-a and 504-b , respectively, that function to facilitate fluid flow in or out of the access ports 484 and 488, as pre-determined. Tubes 504-a and 504-b seal within the apertures 502-a and 502-b to prevent leaking. Tubes 504-a and 504-b may comprise glass, rubber, or other similarly constructed tubes.
  • Opposite the end cap 490 is a second end cap 506, also comprising a sidewall 507 extending from an end portion 508 having apertures 509-a and 509-b formed therein that function similar to those on end cap 490, and that may be sealed, if necessary, to prevent inadvertent flow. The operational function of this particular embodiment is similar to that described above with respect to FIG. 5.
  • It is noted herein that the sleeves and end caps described above and shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 may comprise a silicon rubber mold, an epoxy, or any other suitable sealing composition as known in the art.
  • FIG. 7 illustrates another exemplary fluid containment system configured to seal the slots and bores formed in the elongate body of the exemplary micro fluid transfer system 510. As shown, the micro fluid transfer system 510 comprises an elongate body 514 having a dual bore configuration, namely first and second bores 530 and 532 that extend through the elongate body 514 and that function as discussed above. The elongate body 514 further has formed therein access slots 584 and 588, and an interconnecting slot 580, each of which are fluidly connected to the outer surface 526. In this particular embodiment, the fluid containment system comprises one or a plurality of o-rings or other similar sealing means fit over the outer surface 526 of the elongate body 514 and positioned about the access slots 584 and 588 and the interconnecting slot 580. As shown, first o-ring 598-a is positioned between the access slot 584 and the first end 518 of the elongate body 514. The second o-ring 598-b is positioned between the access slot 584 and the interconnecting slot 580. The third o-ring 598-c is positioned between the access slot 588 and the second end 522 of the elongate body 514.
  • The fluid containment system further comprises a housing 602 configured to receive the micro fluid transfer system 510 therein and to seal against the o-rings 598. The housing 602 comprises a surface 604 that seals against each of the o-rings 598-a , 598-b , and 598-c to contain the fluid flowing through the bores and slots formed within the micro fluid transfer system 510. The housing 602 may further comprise ports formed therein that fluidly connect to the various access slots 584 and 588, as well as the interconnect slot 580, wherein the ports are isolated from one another as a result of the sealing function of the o-rings.
  • The present invention further features one or more packaging systems and methods configured to package the micro fluid transfer system. FIGS. 8-A-8-C illustrate various views of one particular exemplary packaging system of the present invention, wherein the micro-fluid transfer system 710 is packaged and contained within a potting mold. As shown, micro fluid transfer system 710 comprises a fluid containment system in the form of end caps 790 and 806 used to seal respective ends of the elongate body 714 and the bores formed therein. The micro fluid transfer system 710 further comprises a sleeve 798 used to seal the various access and interconnect slots (not shown) as discussed above, and to facilitate the sealing and fluid connection of tubes 804-a and 804-b with the access slots. The potting mold 812 functions to receive and contain the micro fluid transfer system 710 within its interior. In addition, the potting mold 812 comprises a series of slots formed therein. Slot 816-a is configured to receive and support the tube 804-b . Slot 816-b is configured to receive and support the piston rod 748. Slot 816-c is configured to receive and support the tube 804-a. And, slot 816-d is configured to receive and support the valve rod 766. Other exemplary configurations of a potting mold are contemplated herein. In addition, other types of packaging systems are also contemplated. For example, the valve and piston rods may be coupled to or otherwise connected to stainless steel members.
  • FIG. 9 illustrates a micro fluid transfer system, and particularly the elongate body, according to another exemplary embodiment. In this embodiment, the micro fluid transfer system 810, and particularly the elongate body 814, comprises a four-bore configuration, wherein bores 830, 832, 834, and 836 are formed within the elongate body 814 in a similar manner as the single and dual bore configurations discussed above. In addition, the elongate body may comprise one or more access and/or interconnect slots also formed therein to intercept one or more of the four bores. As shown, the elongate body 814 has formed therein an interconnect slot 880 intercepting and fluidly connecting bores 830, 834, and 836. Other access and/or interconnect slots are contemplated.
  • FIG. 10 illustrates a micro fluid transfer system according to still another exemplary embodiment. In this embodiment, the elongate body 914 of the micro fluid transfer system 910 comprises a square cross-section rather than the circular cross-section discussed above. Four bores, bores 930, 932, 934, and 936, also having a square cross-section, are formed therein in a 2×2 arrangement. In other exemplary embodiments the bores formed in the elongate body 914 may comprise a 1×n, 2×n, or n×n arrangement.
  • The various components of the micro fluid transfer system of the present invention may be manufactured using various techniques or methods well known in the art. In one exemplary method of producing the main elongate body, the glass redraw process may be used to form the complex glass structures of the main elongate body and the various bores therein. The glass redraw process is well known and has been used to form precision glass tubing, sheets, and fiber bundles with complex cross-sections. The glass redraw process is described in an article by R. H. Humphry, entitled “Forming Glass Filaments with Unusual Cross-Sections,” published by Gordon & Breach, New York, N.Y., proceedings of the 7th International Congress on Glass, Jun. 28 to Jul. 3, 1965, Charkroi, Belgium, pg. 77-1 to 77-8.
  • In one exemplary method of producing the valve and piston rods, a glass rod is obtained having the geometric configurations desired. The glass rod is coated with a poly silicon coating. One or more portions of the poly silicon coating is configured to reveal one or more annular gaps or spaces of the desired size for the various recesses to be formed in the glass rod. The glass rod is then exposed to an etching process, wherein the recesses are etched out of the glass rod at the location of the gaps or spaces within the poly silicon coating. The etching process may comprise any suitable micro fabrication etching process known in the art, such as a BOE etching process, chemical etching, photolithographic etching, plasma etching, wet chemical etching, dry etching, and others. In an alternative process, the glass rod may be coated with a photoresist, also having one or more annular gaps formed therein. The glass rod and with its photoresist coating may then be subjected to an advanced oxide etcher (AOE), wherein the various recesses in the rod are formed. The micro fabrication process may also comprise non-etching processes, such as machining, laser machining, and air abrasion. One skilled in the art will recognize the various possible ways of forming the recesses within the valve and piston rods.
  • The foregoing detailed description describes the invention with reference to specific exemplary embodiments. However, it will be appreciated that various modifications and changes can be made without departing from the scope of the present invention as set forth in the appended claims. The detailed description and accompanying drawings are to be regarded as merely illustrative, rather than as restrictive, and all such modifications or changes, if any, are intended to fall within the scope of the present invention as described and set forth herein.
  • More specifically, while illustrative exemplary embodiments of the invention have been described herein, the present invention is not limited to these embodiments, but includes any and all embodiments having modifications, omissions, combinations (e.g., of aspects across various embodiments), adaptations and/or alterations as would be appreciated by those in the art based on the foregoing detailed description. The limitations in the claims are to be interpreted broadly based on the language employed in the claims and not limited to examples described in the foregoing detailed description or during the prosecution of the application, which examples are to be construed as non-exclusive. For example, in the present disclosure, the term “preferably” is non-exclusive where it is intended to mean “preferably, but not limited to.” Any steps recited in any method or process claims may be executed in any order and are not limited to the order presented in the claims. Means-plus-function or step-plus-function limitations will only be employed where for a specific claim limitation all of the following conditions are present in that limitation: a) “means for” or “step for” is expressly recited; and b) a corresponding function is expressly recited. The structure, material or acts that support the means-plus function are expressly recited in the description herein. Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined solely by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the descriptions and examples given above.

Claims (31)

  1. 1. A micro fluid transfer system for transferring fluid within a micro-environment,: said micro fluid transfer system comprising:
    an elongate body having first and second ends and an outer surface;
    a plurality of bores formed within said elongate body, said bores extending along at least a portion of a length of said elongate body for carrying fluid therein; and
    at least one interconnecting slot formed through said outer surface of said elongate body intercepting at least two of said plurality of bores within said elongate body at a strategic, pre-determined location and orientation so as to fluidly connect said at least two bores and to define a plurality of potential fluid passageways through said elongate body.
  2. 2. The micro fluid transfer system of claim 1, further comprising at least one access slot intercepting one of said plurality of bores within said elongate body at a strategic, pre-determined location and orientation so that said access slot and said bore are in fluid communication with one another, said access slot further defining additional potential fluid passageways within said elongate body.
  3. 3. The micro fluid transfer system of claim 2, further comprising at least one rod disposed within each of said plurality of bores, said rod being selectively positioned to define a particular pre-determined fluid passageway and subsequent fluid flow path and to manipulate and control fluid flow through said fluid flow path.
  4. 4. The micro fluid transfer system of claim 3, wherein said rod is caused to oscillate back and forth within said bore to selectively open and close said interconnect and access slots, to control fluid flow through said fluid passageways, and to redefine said fluid flow path.
  5. 5. The micro fluid transfer system of claim 3, wherein said rod comprises a pumping rod configured to provide a pumping function within said elongate body.
  6. 6. The micro fluid transfer system of claim 3, wherein said rod comprises a valving rod configured to provide a valving function within said elongate body.
  7. 7. The micro fluid transfer system of claim 3, wherein said rod comprises an elongate body having a substantially constant cross-section.
  8. 8. The micro fluid transfer system of claim 3, wherein said rod comprises an elongate body having a first end with a substantially similar cross-section as that of a second end and an intermediate section connecting said first and second ends and comprising, at least in part, a pre-determined segment comprising a recess having a reduced cross-section relative to said cross-section of said first and second ends, said recess being configured to open said intermediate and access slots upon being positioned thereabout to facilitate fluid flow through said slots.
  9. 9. The micro fluid transfer system of claim 1, further comprising means for actuating said rods, said means selected from the group consisting of a magnetic source, a solenoid, and an electromechanical system.
  10. 10. The micro fluid transfer system of claim 2, further comprising a housing configured to enclose and contain said elongate body, said housing comprising:
    an interior portion configured to receive said elongate body;
    a plurality of seals sealing said housing to said elongate body to prevent inadvertent fluid flow between said housing and said elongate body; and
    at least one fluid passageway formed in said housing and in fluid connection with said elongate body for passing fluid through said housing.
  11. 11. The micro fluid transfer system of claim 10, wherein said seals are placed adjacent said interconnect and access slots to define a fluid passageway out of said elongate body.
  12. 12. The micro fluid transfer system of claim 1, wherein said elongate body is made of a material selected from the group consisting of glass, quartz, silicon, and ceramic.
  13. 13. The micro fluid transfer system of claim 1, wherein said interconnect slot is formed on an orientation, with respect to said plurality of bores, selected from the group consisting of orthogonal, transverse, and oblique.
  14. 14. The micro fluid transfer system of claim 2, wherein said at least one access slot is formed on an orientation, with respect to said plurality of bores, selected from the group consisting of orthogonal, transverse, and oblique.
  15. 15. A micro fluid pump comprising:
    an elongate body having an outer surface and a plurality of bores formed therein that extend along at least a portion of a length of said elongate body for carrying fluid therein;
    at least one interconnecting slot formed through said outer surface and intercepting at least two of said bores at a strategic, pre-determined location and orientation so as to fluidly interconnect said at least two bores;
    at least one access slot formed through said outer surface and intercepting one of said bores at a strategic, pre-determined location and orientation so as to be in fluid communication with said bore, said plurality of bores, said interconnecting slot, and said at least one access slot function to define a plurality of fluid passageways through said elongate body;
    at least one rod slidably disposed within each of said plurality of bores, respectively, said rod comprising at least one recess therein for facilitating fluid flow about a selected fluid flow path upon being selectively positioned within said bore; and
    means for actuating said at least one rod to displace said rod into a position to define a particular, pre-determined fluid flow passageway and fluid flow path and to pump fluid through said pre-determined fluid flow passageway.
  16. 16. The micro fluid pump of claim 15, further comprising repositioning said at least one rod to define another pre-determined fluid flow passageway and fluid flow path.
  17. 17. The micro fluid pump of claim 15, wherein said pre-determined fluid flow passageway is defined by said rods being selectively positioned to seal said interconnect and access slots.
  18. 18. A method of manufacturing a micro fluid transfer system, said method comprising:
    forming an elongate body having first and second ends;
    forming a plurality of bores within said elongate body, said bores extending along at least a portion of a length of said elongate body for carrying fluid therein; and
    forming an interconnect slot within said elongate body to intercept and fluidly interconnect at least two of said plurality of bores, thus defining a plurality of potential fluid passageways through said elongate body.
  19. 19. The method of claim 18, further comprising forming at least one access slot within said elongate body that intercepts and fluidly connects one of said plurality of bores, said access slot further defining additional potential fluid passageways.
  20. 20. The method of claim 18, further comprising forming at least one rod configured to fit within each of said plurality of bores, respectively, and to be selectively positionable to manipulate fluid flow through said plurality of potential fluid passageways.
  21. 21. The method of claim 20, further comprising forming at least one recess within said rod to facilitate a valving function of said rod, said recess defining a reduced cross-sectional area along a partial length of said rod.
  22. 22. The method of claim 20, wherein said recess is formed according to one or more microfabrication processes selected from the group consisting of machining, chemical etching, photolithographic etching, plasma etching, wet chemical etching, dry etching, laser machining, and air abrasion.
  23. 23. The method of claim 20 further comprising operably coupling a solenoid to each of said first and second ends of said elongate body to selectively control the bi-directional movement of said rods within said bores, wherein said rods comprise, at least in part, a metallic component coupled thereto.
  24. 24. The method of claim 20, further comprising coupling a magnetized member to each end of said rods to actuate movement of said rods by magnet.
  25. 25. A method for transferring fluid flow within a micro-environment, said method comprising:
    providing a micro fluid transfer system comprising:
    an elongate body having an outer surface and first and second ends;
    a plurality of bores formed in said elongate body, said bores extending along at least a portion of a length of said elongate body for carrying fluid therein;
    at least one slot formed through said outer surface and intercepting at least one of said plurality of bores at a pre-determined location and orientation so as to define a plurality of potential fluid passageways through said elongate body;
    at least one rod slidably disposed within each of said plurality of bores, said at least one rod being selectively positionable within each of said bores to define a plurality of particular pre-determined fluid flow paths;
    subjecting said micro fluid transfer system to a micro-environment containing, at least in part, a fluid; and
    actuating said at least one rod to displace into a position within said bore to define a particular pre-determined fluid flow passageway and fluid flow path through which said fluid is transferred.
  26. 26. The method of claim 25, further comprising repositioning said at least one rod to define another pre-determined fluid flow passageway and fluid flow path.
  27. 27. The method of claim 26, wherein said at least one slot comprises an interconnecting slot configured to fluidly interconnect two of said plurality of bores, said interconnecting slot further defining additional potential fluid flow passageways within said elongate body.
  28. 28. The method of claim 25, wherein said at least one slot comprises an access slot configured to fluidly connect at least one of said bores with an outer surface of said elongate body, said access slot being formed at a strategic, pre-determined location and at a strategic, pre-determined orientation with respect to said bore,.
  29. 29. The method of claim 25, wherein said actuating said at least one rod comprises:
    coupling a magnetized member at each end of said rod;
    placing a magnetic generator proximate each of said magnetized members; and
    alternating the polarity of said magnetic generators to cause said rod to selectively oscillate back and forth.
  30. 30. The method of claim 25, wherein said step of actuating at least one of said rods comprises:
    coupling a solenoid to said first and second ends of said elongate body;
    coupling a metallic component to each end of said rod;
    supplying selective current to said solenoids to cause said rod to oscillate back and forth.
  31. 31. The method of claim 25, wherein said micro-environment comprises those selected from the group consisting of intravenous, and a computer circuit board.
US12072133 2007-02-22 2008-02-22 Micro fluid transfer system Abandoned US20080245424A1 (en)

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US8245728B2 (en) * 2007-05-08 2012-08-21 Raytheon Company Quantum fluid transfer system
US8794262B2 (en) 2007-05-08 2014-08-05 Raytheon Company Quantum fluid transfer system

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CN101663230B (en) 2011-12-07 grant
EP2125606A1 (en) 2009-12-02 application
WO2008103963A1 (en) 2008-08-28 application
CN101663230A (en) 2010-03-03 application
JP2010519460A (en) 2010-06-03 application

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