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Use of a porous membrane for gas bubble removal in microfluidic channels: physical mechanisms and design criteria
Microfluidics and Nanofluidics (2010)
  • Jie Xu, Columbia University
  • Regis Vaillant, Columbia University
  • Daniel Attinger, Columbia University
We demonstrate and explain a simple and efficient way to remove gas bubbles from liquid-filled microchannels, by integrating a hydrophobic porous membrane on top of the microchannel. A prototype chip is manufactured in hard, transparent polymer with the ability to completely filter gas plugs out of a segmented flow at rates up to 7.4 μl/s/mm2 of membrane area. The device involves a bubble generation section and a gas removal section. In the bubble generation section, a T-junction is used to generate a train of gas plugs into a water stream. These gas plugs are then transported toward the gas removal section, where they slide along a hydrophobic membrane until complete removal. The system has been successfully modeled, and four necessary operating criteria have been determined to achieve a complete separation of the gas from the liquid. The first criterion is that the bubble length needs to be larger than the channel diameter. The second criterion is that the gas plug should stay on the membrane for a time sufficient to transport all the gas through the membrane. The third criterion is that the gas plug travel speed should be lower than a critical value: otherwise a stable liquid film between the bubble and the membrane prevents mass transfer. The fourth criterion is that the pressure difference across the membrane should not be larger than the Laplace pressure to prevent water from leaking through the membrane.
  • microfluidics,
  • multiphase flow,
  • bubble,
  • segmented flow
Publication Date
October, 2010
Publisher Statement
This is a manuscript of an article from Microfluids and Nanofluidics 9 (2010): 765, doi:10.1007/s10404-010-0592-5. Posted with permission. The final publication is available at Springer via
Citation Information
Jie Xu, Regis Vaillant and Daniel Attinger. "Use of a porous membrane for gas bubble removal in microfluidic channels: physical mechanisms and design criteria" Microfluidics and Nanofluidics Vol. 9 Iss. 4-5 (2010)
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