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BME personnel are no strangers to being published in various news outlets, something that Dr. Brian Cummins, former BME postdoctoral researcher, can attest to. He, along with all-star team Drs. Fran Ligler and Glenn Walker and undergraduates Rukesh Chinthapatla and Balaji Lenin, have had their cutting-edge microfluidic research published in the journal Technology and were featured in a recent NC State News article. The team has developed a paper pump that acts as a hydraulic battery that can power microfluidic devices (such as diagnostics or drug testing equipment) without electric input; instead, the pump relies on capillary action to move controlled volumes of liquid.

Paper pumps act as hydraulic batteries to control rate of flow

Today’s electric microfluidic devices and laboratory equipment tend to be cumbersome and expensive, making them difficult to work effectively outside of a dedicated laboratory environment. The paper pump, however, is ultra-portable and cost-effective, with each costing less than $0.10. In addition, they can be saved for secondary testing when lab-based confirmations of on-site diagnoses are needed. They believe that this innovative take on an ages-old technology will positively impact public health and research opportunities.  The team have applied for a patent and are currently looking for industry partners to commercialize the product.

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