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Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Reconfigurable Microactuator and Method of Configuring Same", for Approval

February 26, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Electronics Newsweekly -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventors Hua, Zhishan (Durham, NC); Gulari, Erdogan (Ann Arbor, MI); Burns, Mark A. (Ann Arbor, MI); Pal, Rohit (Fishkill, NY); Srivannavit, Onnop (Ann Arbor, MI), filed on October 4, 2013, was made available online on February 13, 2014.

The patent's assignee is The Regents of The University of Michigan.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "There has been a trend towards the integration of single microfluidic elements such as microvalves and micropumps into complex microfluidic networks for highly parallel, miniaturized, and integrated chemical/biomedical processes. Successful examples include integrated microfluidic circuits, microfluidic processors, and microvalve arrays. Generally, fluidic manipulations in these devices are achieved by physical displacement/deflection of an array of elastic structures using pneumatic, electrostatic or thermal pneumatic actuation. Pressure channels or electrical lines are used to deliver actuation signals to individual units in the array. The integrated devices therefore require a large number of external supporting equipments, such as solenoid valves and tubing connections as well as electrical modules and associated multiplexing programs. Also, these peripherals cannot scale down accordingly with the microfluidic chip. They consume considerable space and limit the use for portable applications. Therefore, a microfluidic platform with simple actuation and multiplexing mechanism would be desirable for microfluidic integration."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "A microactuator system may include a substrate having a plurality of thru chambers formed therein, a plurality of phase-change plugs each disposed within one of the thru chambers, a flexible layer attached with the substrate and covering a surface of each of the plugs, and a cap positioned such that a common pressure chamber is defined adjacent to each of the plugs.

"A microactuator system may include a substrate assembly having a plurality of actuation cells embedded therein and a helmet chip operatively arranged with the substrate assembly to form a common pressure chamber adjacent to the actuation cells. Each of the actuation cells may be configured to melt if heated by a source of electromagnetic radiation and to deform when melted if subjected to pressure.

"A microactuator may be configured by activating a source of electromagnetic radiation to heat and melt a selected set of phase-change plugs embedded in a substrate of the microactuator, pressurizing a common pressure chamber adjacent to each of the plugs to deform the melted plugs, and deactivating the source of electromagnetic radiation to cool and solidify the melted plugs.

"While example embodiments in accordance with the invention are illustrated and disclosed, such disclosure should not be construed to limit the invention. It is anticipated that various modifications and alternative designs may be made without departing from the scope of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"FIGS. 1A through 1E are side views, in cross-section, of an embodiment of a microactuator system.

"FIG. 2 is a side view, in cross-section, of the microactuator system of FIG. 1 integrated with an embodiment of a microfluidic channel assembly.

"FIGS. 3A and 3B are close-up perspective views of an embodiment of an actuator element.

"FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a microactuator system.

"FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a microactuator system.

"FIGS. 6A through 6C are plan views of a ladder channel network configured by a microactuator."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Hua, Zhishan; Gulari, Erdogan; Burns, Mark A.; Pal, Rohit; Srivannavit, Onnop. Reconfigurable Microactuator and Method of Configuring Same. Filed October 4, 2013 and posted February 13, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=6950&p=139&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140206.PD.&OS=PD/20140206&RS=PD/20140206

Keywords for this news article include: Electronics, Electromagnet, The Regents of The University of Michigan.

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Source: Electronics Newsweekly


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