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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name



Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Amar S. Basu


The work completed and reported herein was motivated by a broad vision wherein 'information', in the form of flow-suspended objects (FSOs) (e.g. individual droplets/emulsions, mammalian cells, isolated nuclei, microbeads, etc), may be handled and manipulated in a manner inspired by both the handling of bits by computational random-access memory and of inventory within a warehouse. Such a system, analogous to a fluidic computer, would resemble a network of interconnected modular components designed to perform operations ranging from sample enrichment (through repeated cycles of ‘trapping’ and ‘release’) and monitoring/incubation (as may be desired for biological samples or compartmentalized chemical reactions), to Boolean operations (e.g. the merging or splitting of droplets). Such a system could then be utilized for performing complex single-unit operations (e.g. single cell genomics/proteomics) without requiring off-chip sample handling (Figure 1) – a true lab on a chip.

Contextualized by this broad vision, the work reported herein sought to develop a fluidic memory-analog capable of (1) efficiently capturing FSOs within individual storage units, (2) selectively releasing FSOs from specific storage units without disrupting the contents of other storage units, and (3) achieving these functional objectives in a manner capable of handling at least 10,000 FSOs in an area smaller than 3,750 mm2 (this area constraint is owed to the use of fabrication techniques and equipment that limit the surface area of devices to the surface area of a standard 50 x 75 mm glass slide). These design constraints ultimately resulted in (1) the development of a novel elastomeric valve that could be patterned at densities > 1,000 valves per device, (2) the utilization of this valve within a gas-on-gas multiplexer capable of providing the operational scalability of large-scale integration (LSI), (3) the optimization of a storage unit geometry that is both scalable and capable of efficiently capturing single FSOs, and (4) the integration of these components in the design of a system capable of selectively capturing and releasing single FSOs.

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