Portable and Battery-Operated Digital Microfluidics Device

Arrays of microfluidic devices and wells

Available for Licensing
TRL: 2

IP Status

US Provisional Patent


Tom Chen

Nicholas Grant

Reference No: 2022-046
Licensing Manager

Jessy McGowan

At a Glance

Researchers at Colorado State University have developed a battery-operated device for sample preparation and diagnostic use. Using Electro‐Wetting on Dielectric (EWOD) technology, the device described herein can accomplish most steps (dispensing, mixing, etc.) needed for sample preparation with minimum human involvement in a form‐factor that is intended for hand‐held use and powered by battery. This device could increase the accessibility of medical diagnostics in rural or remote areas, shorten the time-to-data for lab results, and decrease the need for sending expensive test requests to diagnostic centers.


Sample preparation has typically been a limiting factor in medicine, often being time-consuming and costly due to reagents, time, and sample handling procedures. The complexity of such sample preparations, particularly with human-involved steps, usually requires sophisticated lab equipment for dispensing, mixing, and storage.


The device includes a portable microfluidic device, with supporting hardware and software integration to correctly operate sample preparation tasks in a completely self-contained and battery-powered handheld unit. This device could perform several tests or diagnostics and would greatly reduce the burden in rural medicine on lab and personnel costs.

Video demonstration available upon request.

Figure 1 (below) illustrates an example chip design for nucleic acid extraction

A schematic example of nucleic acid chip design

Figure 1. Nucleic acid extraction chip design
Figure 2 (below) compares the completed electro-wetting on dielectric chip electrodes to a quarter (actual size).

A quarter and the finished electrowetting device (actual size)

Figure 2. The completed Electro-wetting on Dielectric chip electrodes compared to a quarter (actual size)
Figure 3 (below) illustrates an example of the device implementations (a) Charging/PC connected; (b) Open; (c) Closed.

Example of the device charging, connected, or closed

Figure 3. The completed Electro-wetting on Dielectric chip device (A) Charging/PC Connected (B) Open, or (C) Closed
  • Self-contained device removes expensive lab equipment and storage cost
  • Device is portable and hand-held without the need for external power supply
  • Disposable and low-cost cartridge for reagents handling integrated with the system
  • Shortened time-to-data for test results
  • Able to perform complex mixing and dispensing functions
  • Low-cost of unit manufacturing and ownership
  • Sample preparation
  • Rural medicine and diagnostics
  • Remote or field work capable