A DIY pump inspired by footballs could help make microfluidic devices more accessible to remote and impoverished regions.
Microfluidic devices show great promise as diagnostic tools, but they also often require large and expensive pumps to move the liquid samples through the system.
Developed by a team from RMIT, the pump was inspired by the way an inflated football can contain considerable pressures. With that design in mind, the team reinforced a standard latex balloon with three layers of nylon stocking. This simple technique enabled the balloon’s internal pressure to be increased by a factor of ten, which is enough to move the liquid samples with a force equal to larger and more expensive pumps.