Optically Driven Microfluidic Pump Using Carbon Nanotubes

UAH-P-13006-Optically Driven Microfluidic Pump Using Carbon Nanotubes

Docket: UAH-P-13006


Microfluidic pumps are used to generate fluid flow movement in microfluidic channels and to eliminate the use of external pumps. Most widely used microfluidic pumps are based on pneumatically or electrically driven schemes. However, pneumatic pumps need to be connected to vacuum sources, while the commonly used piezoelectric pumps require high-voltage power supplies.

In response to these limitations, researchers at UAH have developed an optically driven micro-fluidic pump utilizing carbon nanotubes (CNTs) that continuously expand and contract the diaphragm to eliminate the external driving source connection. This design takes advantage of the interesting elastic response of CNTs under visible light illumination. The pump uses modulated laser light to actuate the diaphragm in order to push the fluid into a microfluidic channel from the pumping chamber via an outlet valve.


  • Accurate liquid handling in microfluidic systems
  • Laboratory research including MRI, vacuum, and cryogenics
  • Point-of-care diagnostic applications
  • Printers


  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Reliable
  • Accurate


  • State of Development: Proof of concept
  • Licensing Status: Available for licensing
  • Patent Status: Proprietary