Moving water without moving parts

Jaz captured a video of his membrane pump moving water from left to right. The metallized membrane is a disc of about 1 cm diameter sandwiched between the pink layers of plastic, while metal tubes on either side supply an AC electric field. The voltage applied at the red and black clips is similar to what comes out of an electric socket, and the device draws a few milliamps. The video shows a single 10 micron thick membrane driving a slug of deionized water at about 60 microliters per minute. A microliter is 1 cubic millimeter, meaning this flow rate is in a good range for pushing fluids in “lab on a chip” analytical applications such as chromatography for identifying proteins. It could also be useful for driving tiny fluidic actuators, especially at hinges where a small volume change could drive a larger mechanical motion. And it would take a little over 8 minutes to adminster your .5 cc flu vaccine at this rate, which would be okay only if you were very patient. To get faster flow rates, you can increase the membrane surface area.

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