Development of Paper Microfluidics with 3D-Printed PDMS Barriers for Flow Control

Chang Chen, Haixu Meng, Tianruo Guo, Siddharth Deshpande, Huaying Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Paper microfluidics has been extensively exploited as a powerful tool for environmental and medical detection applications. Both flow delay and compatibility with either polar or non-polar reagents are indispensable for the automation of detections requiring multiple reaction steps. This article reports the systematic studies of a 3D-printing protocol, characterization, and application of both the partially and fully penetrated polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) barriers for flexible flow control in paper microfluidics. The physical parameters of PDMS barriers printed using a simple liquid dispenser were found related to the printing pressure, speed, diffusion time after printing, baking temperature, and PDMS viscosity. The capability of PDMS barriers to confine the flow of non-polar solvents was demonstrated using oil flow in both wax-and PDMS-surrounded channels. It was identified that the minimum width of channels to prevent leakage was 470 ± 54 μm, which was as narrow as that fabricated using stamps from lithography. Both the partially penetrated barriers (PPBs) and constriction channels were of the capability to delay flow in paper microfluidics. Additionally, an in silico investigation led to the further understanding that the reduction of channel cross-section resulting from PPBs was the primary reason for flow delay. Our results suggest that increasing the penetration depth of the barriers is more efficient in delaying flow than increasing the PPB length. Finally, devices with four inlet channels and 0-6 PPBs across each channel were successfully applied in flow delay for sequential fluid delivery. These results improve the understanding of the major factors, affecting the 3D PDMS barrier fabrication and the resulting flow control in paper microfluidics, providing practical implications for applications in various fields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40286-40296
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number35
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2022


  • 3D printing
  • flow delay
  • paper microfluidics
  • partially penetrated barriers
  • PDMS barriers


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