Microfluidic Network Simulations Enable On-demand Prediction of Control Parameters for Operating Lab-on-a-chip-devices
in: Processes (2021)
Reliable operation of lab-on-a-chip systems depends on user-friendly, precise, and predictable fluid management tailored to particular sub-tasks of the microfluidic process protocol and their required sample fluids. Pressure-driven flow control, where the sample fluids are delivered to the chip from pressurized feed vessels, simplifies the fluid management even for multiple fluids. The achieved flow rates depend on the pressure settings, fluid properties, and pressure-throughput characteristics of the complete microfluidic system composed of the chip and the interconnecting tubing. The prediction of the required pressure settings for achieving given flow rates simplifies the control tasks and enables opportunities for automation. In our work, we utilize a fast-running, Kirchhoff-based microfluidic network simulation that solves the complete microfluidic system for inline prediction of the required pressure settings within less than 200 ms. The appropriateness of and benefits from this approach are demonstrated as exemplary for creating multi-component laminar co-flow and the creation of droplets with variable composition. Image-based methods were combined with chemometric approaches for the readout and correlation of the created multi-component flow patterns with the predictions obtained from the solver.