A gas driven pump system for physiological flow
All cells in our bodies are exposed to mechanical stimuli. For some of these cells, such as endothelial cells, it has been shown that their proper function depends on mechanical stimuli. While cells investigated in vivo are usually exposed to natural mechanical stimuli, cells studied in vitro often lack them. In order to provide realistic mechanical stimuli in vitro, cells or tissues can be placed within devices termed flow chambers, flow cells, perfusion cells or bioreactors, and exposed to flow generated by a pumping system. Current systems depend mostly on peristaltic or syringe pumps or rotating disks which either introduce unwanted oscillations or are unable to accurately reproduce physiological flow waveforms. We have now developed the prototype for a new gas driven pumping system that is capable of reproducing the full range of physiological waveforms while minimizing unwanted oscillations.
The system is working well already but, in order to make it a truly useful research tool, a number of performance and usability upgrades need to be made. In addition, the pump system needs an environmental control system and also to be miniaturized so that it is compatible with standard microscope stages. If you are a bachelor or master student and want to help us with this effort, you will have an opportunity to work within an interdisciplinary environment and to develop a complex system based on Matlab and Simulink, a novel pumping principle and a custom made flow chamber. At the end of the project you will also have the opportunity to test your system with live cells and to examine how they behave under physiological flow conditions.