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Electrophoresis. 2014 Feb;35(2-3):289-97. doi: 10.1002/elps.201300160. Epub 2013 Sep 14.

The use of polyurethane as an elastomer in thermoplastic microfluidic devices and the study of its creep properties.

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  • 1Interdisciplinary Microsystems Group, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.


We report using polyurethane (PU) as an elastomer in microvalves integrated with thermoplastic microfluidic devices. Elastomer-based microvalves have been used in a number of applications and the elastomer often used is PDMS. Although it is a convenient material for prototyping, PDMS has been recognized to possess shortcomings such as solvent incompatibility and unfavorable manufacturability. We investigated the use of PU as an elastomer to address the challenges. A reliable method was developed to bond hybrid materials such as PU and cyclic olefin copolymer. The film thickness from 3.5 to 24.5 μm was studied to identify an appropriate thickness of PU films for desirable elasticity in microvalves. We integrated PU with thermally actuated, elastomer-based microvalves in thermoplastic devices. Valve actuations were demonstrated, and the relationship between the valve actuation time and heater power was studied. We compared PU with PDMS in terms of their microvalve performance. Valves with PDMS failed to function after two weeks since the thermal-sensitive solution evaporated through porous PDMS membrane, whereas the same valve with PU functioned properly after eight months. In addition, we evaluated the creep and creep recovery of PU, which is a common phenomenon of viscoelastic materials and is related to the long-term elastic property of PU after prolonged use.

© 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.


Bonding; Creep; Elastomer; Microvalves; Polyurethane

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