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Low-cost and scalable fluidic pumping system.

Investigating biological processes often requires model systems that mimic naturally occurring physiological environments. Many animal models and cell lines have served as gold standard tools for biomedical researchers to investigate biological functions in laboratories. Yet, many vital bio-activities such as hormones production rely on fluid dynamics to propagate signalling molecules at the right place and time throughout the body. In investigating such long-range communication mechanisms, a need exist to precisely mimic and control physiological fluid environments in laboratory settings. As a result, many commercial pumping systems are now available:

Programmable syringe pump system
Peristaltic Pumping system
Pressure controller system
Yet, commercial solutions come highly expensive and are difficult to customize based on application requirements. As a result, various low-cost open source solutions have recently emerged in the literature:

Open-source syringe pump system
Pressure controller
Piezoelectric pumping system
Although being low cost and easily customizable, open-source solutions lack an intuitive user interface allowing to easily adjust pumping parameters without modifying the underlying source code of the system.

The present project aims to improve the design of the PiFlow system by designing a graphical user interface to be displayed on an LCD touch screen display to adjust flow rate parameters easily. Specifically, the interface will allow the user to select between three different modes. The static flow mode will allow setting a constant flow rate (uL/Min) to be executed for a pre-defined flow time (Sec). The dynamic flow mode will allow the user to select a range of flow rate values where the system will linearly adjust the pumping rate (uL/Min) following a pre-defined sweep rate (uL/Min) adjustable through the interface. Lastly, for applications requiring higher complexity, a custom mode will allow the upload of a CSV file containing a list of flow rate parameters to be executed by the system. The underlying code of the interface will be made available for modification and improvement on the Github Project Page. Overall, the interface serves as a first design iteration utilizable in various microfluidic open source systems.”

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