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Válvula microfluídica de control de flujo pasivo


Oferta Tecnológica
Una pyme suiza especializada en sistemas médicos ha desarrollado una válvula de control de flujo pasivo basada en sistemas microelectromecánicos (MEMS). Este dispositivo microfluídico consiste en un sistema inteligente y de bajo coste que suministra un caudal constante independientemente de las variaciones de presión. La empresa busca socios, especialmente compañías del sector de tecnologías médicas, con el fin de licenciar y aplicar este sistema en sus productos. El objetivo es continuar con el desarrollo, adaptar e integrar el sistema.


Microfluidic passive flow control valve
A Swiss medical systems SME developed a passive flow control valve using microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. The microfluidic device is a smart and low-cost system that delivers a constant flow rate independently of pressure variations. The company is looking for partners, especially medical technology companies, interested in licensing and applying this system in their products. Typical collaboration would include further development, adaptation and integration of the system.
Flow control valve for drug delivery:

The passive flow control valve offered was developed by a Swiss medical systems SME. Passive flow regulators require no energy. They are usually intended to deliver or drain a fluid at a constant rate independently of pressure variations.

Microfluidic devices made of a stack of two plates have been designed and tested with success: the first plate comprises a flexible silicon membrane having through holes while the second plate is a rigid substrate with a cavity, an outlet hole and pillars aligned with the through holes of the membrane. The liquid flows through the holes etched in the membrane and through the gap between the membrane and the pillars. Each hole can be considered as a valve which progressively closes as the pressure increases, leading to a non-linear fluidic behaviour.

Numerical modelling of the fluid dynamics inside the device associated with finite element method (FEM) simulations of the membrane deformation have been carried out to design a device exhibiting a constant flow rate in a specified range of pressure. To make the design more reliable, the device characteristics have been optimized using a genetic algorithm, the fitness function taking notably into account machining and alignment tolerances. This algorithm has finally been used to design flow regulators dedicated to infusion of viscous drugs at high pressure.

Prototypes have been micromachined and characterized to demonstrate the good correlation between simulations and experimental data. Flow rate accuracy within +/-10% at 3 sigma has been demonstrated. The device dimensions are typically 10 mm x 10 mm x 1 mm. The device dimensions can be tailored to the final application.

The typical flow rate varies from 1 ml/day to 1 litre/min. The inlet pressure regulation range can be a few mbar or as large as several bar, the membrane stiffness being simply adjusted to match the expected variation of pressure.

Experimental data have demonstrated the proof of concept using viscous fluids of 12 and 24 cP and target flow rates of 0.5 and 1 ml/min (pressure range of 7 to 20 bar). Other samples for drug delivery at low pressure have been machined and tested with success (flow rate 20 ml/h using water and pressure between 10 to 100 mbar).

The figure in the profile shows an example of 10mm x 10mm x 1mm passive flow regulators made of silicon and borosilicate (stack of two wafers). They are presented on the tape used as support in the dicing process at the end of manufacturing. These particular chips have been designed to deliver constant flow rates of 0.5 and 1ml/min between 7 and 20 bar for viscous fluids of 12 and 24 cP.

Any application that requires a constant flow rate of liquid or gas could be interested by this device, e.g. lab-on-a-chip, glaucoma treatment and diagnostics. The technology might be applied in the field of infusion system, hydrocephalus treatment, immunotherapy, chemotherapy anaesthesia or patient-controlled analgesia.

The Swiss company is seeking partners, e.g. manufacturer of medical devices, which are interested to license, to further develop the technology to be used in various products and to commercialise them.
Advantages and Innovations:
The technology combines several advantages and technical aspect that cannot normally be found in one and the same device.
- Passive device (no energy required). Most devices with the same performance and accuracy are active (energy required).
- Constant flow rate independently of pressure variation.
- Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology.
- Very good accuracy (+/-10% at 3 sigma). Accuracy equates to state of the art.
- Compatible with large production volumes.
- Effective with liquid and gas. It is not common that one and the same technology applicable for liquid and gas.
- Large range of flow rates available from ml/day to ml/s. It is not common that one technology offers the possibility to covers 6 orders of magnitude for the delivered flow rate.
- Can be tailored to the fluid viscosity.
- Safe design (shut-off at high pressure).
- Possibility to integrate a pressure sensor inside the device (by ion implantation).

Stage of Development:
Under development/lab tested
Patents granted

Partner sought

Type and Role of Partner Sought:
The specific area of activity of the partner:
Manufacturer of medical devices, e.g. infusion system, hydrocephalus treatment, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, anaesthesia.

The tasks to be performed by the partner sought:
Participate in the finalization of the development of the device for specific applications, application in various commercial fields and commercialization of the newly developed product.


Type and Size of Client:
Industry SME 50-249
Already Engaged in Trans-National Cooperation:
Languages Spoken:


Technology Keywords:
06001005 Diagnósticos, diagnosis
02007009 Materials Handling Technology (solids, fluids, gases)
06004 Micro y nanotecnología relacionada con las ciencias biológicas
06001015 Productos farmacéuticos / medicamentos
06001013 Tecnología médica / ingeniería biomédica