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Pressure-Sensitive Microvalves Made from Polymer Brushes

  • E.M. Sevick (a1) and D.R.M. Williams (a2)

Abstract

We describe a novel microvalve, constructed from polymer chains end-grafted onto opposing surfaces of a narrow slit. The assembly of polymer chains acts as both sensor and valve for microflow control and bypasses the need to construct an external feedback mechanism. This microflow control results from densely grafted chains which repel one another and stretch away from the surface, forming a brush which acts as an elastic and impenetrable layer. The height of a sheared brush increases or decreases depending upon solvent quality, i.e the layer can show a negative Poission's ratio. The discharge through the brushlined conduit is a non-linear function of pressure enabling different modes of valve operation. For brushes which extend moderately into the inter-slit region the valve assembly maintains constant discharge over a wide range of pressure. For brushes which extend far into the inter-slit region the valve assembly cuts off flow above a critical pressure, limiting the maximum discharge.

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Pressure-Sensitive Microvalves Made from Polymer Brushes

  • E.M. Sevick (a1) and D.R.M. Williams (a2)

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