High-Precision Flow Control
Anne Le Nel, Ph.D., is R&D director of Fluigent, whose solutions are based on the company’s pressure-based flow technology (FASTAB™, for fast stabilization) and consist of different tools including Microfluidic Flow Control Systems (MFCS™) that are designed to independently control up to eight channels of a customer’s microfluidic system.
According to Dr. Le Nel, Fluigent’s FASTAB technology allows fast response and settling times (less than 200 milliseconds in specific conditions), pulseless delivery, and excellent flow stability (0.1% CV) compared to what is possible with syringe and peristaltic pumps. These characteristics are distinct advantages for the Fluigent technology and also allow it to be used successfully in long-period experiments.
In addition, she explained, the Fluigent technology provides precise pressure (within 0.1% full scale) in different pressure ranges, positive and negative (0–25 millibars, 0–69 millibars, 0–345 millibars, 0–1 bar, and 0–7 bars for the positive pressures), to meet different pressure demands and to control flow rates ranging from sub-nL/min to thousands of mL/min.
“Our flow-control and fluid-handling solutions are suited to many different applications: droplet manipulations, cell and particle applications, and chemical applications, among others,” Dr. Le Nel noted.
Droplets are a key tool in many microfluidic applications, and the Fluigent MFCS are especially suited to cell manipulation, Dr. Le Nel pointed out. The need of a highly stable and pulseless flow is very important when working with cells in order to avoid shear stress, cell damage, and to be able to fully control the flow of the cells (including stopping their flow). For all these reasons, the MFCS are especially adapted to cell manipulation, offering: a pulseless flow, an instantaneous control of the flow, and independent channels to stop the flow of cells anytime that is desired.
Dr. Le Nel described Fluigent’s MAESFLO software, which works with the company’s FASTAB technology and products to enable the control and monitoring of flow with a high level of precision and short response time. This software allows complex experiments with different pressure requirements to be completely automated using the Fluigent technology. Dr. Le Nel pointed out that the MAESFLO software has recently been upgraded to provide a feedback loop between external flow sensors and the pressure pump in order to monitor and control all the flow-relevant parameters: flow rate and pressure.