This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will support the development of a fluidic processor capable of performing complex fluidic processes. In Phase I, we will demonstrate the utility of this device in two-dimensional liquid chromatography (2DLC), where existing valve technologies currently severely limit the performance of 2DLC. This project seeks to radically change the way fluids are moved, switched, processed, stored, and detected within a fluidics system. Current state-of-the-art fluid switching devices, such as rotary and solenoid valves, actuate in a single dimension thereby severely limiting the fluidic calculations and permutations that can be derived from single or even multiple concatenated devices. Furthermore, because they are one-dimensional devices, they have problems with analyte carry over, channel cross talk, and are generally design limited. This novel concept breaks down the traditional design barriers that constrain the implementation of current fluidics. To accomplish this, the concept transcends the single dimension and embraces two- and three-dimensional fluid processing in the context of a valve. The project will result in a random access, multi-dimensional, multi-purpose valve platform with specific application to metabolomics and proteomics separations.
The broader impacts of this activity include application of the device to greatly expand research and analytical capabilities of instruments for 2-dimensional separations, food testing, drug discovery, GMO testing, and other critical analytical and bioprocessing applications. The device addresses the most vexing problem of interfacing of micro and macro fluidics and enables massively parallel manipulation of fluids. The project also will train and provide research experience for undergraduates. If successful, this project will contribute and enable new frontiers of systems biology research aimed at driving greater knowledge of biochemical interactions, mechanisms and biomarker discovery.
POR The fluidics processor project was intended to make a complex fluidic switching process possible by accessing stored samples in a random manner. Currently it is required to access samples in a sequential manner, becoming complicated by cross-contamination, carry-over from previous samples, and time factors into the process as the sample of interest can only be accessed once previous samples in the system are analyzed, or if ignored, compromised by connecting to samples not of current interest. It was decided to take a breadboard approach. Rotary valves are actuated by providing torque to a mechanical shaft, however, the processor would require higher loads. It was also desired to have an actuation system that was not limited by the amount of force it could provide to move the seals, and also to load the seals to operate at high pressure. We tried several iterations before arriving at the final configuration. Previous designs required that the sealing area be too large, and therefore, so much force required in order to adequately seal at the desired pressure that deflections, and power requirements became impractical. A final design is being completed , that provides solutions to the sealing issues described above, and patents are being submitted to protect intellectual property as the technology and project progresses.