Microfluidic device from MIT uses slow, steady osmosis and a sugar cube to continuously pump liquid. 


  • Reduced energy usage
  • Long lasting
  • Reliable


  • Electronics
  • HVAC Systems
  • Robotics

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 9: Industry Innovation & Infrastructure

  • Goal 12: Responsible Production & Consumption

The Challenge

Many robots require tiny, movable parts and pumps to power complex movements. These tiny parts are difficult and expensive to manufacture, they break easily, and they require external energy to operate.

Innovation Details

The microfluidic device operates passively, requiring no moving parts or pumps. It is made of two plastic slides with small, drilled channels. To create a sugar gradient, some of the channels are filled with both water and sugar, and others are filled with just water. A sugar cube is placed on the system to diffuse into the liquid. The device is able to to passively pump water from a tank to a beaker at a constant flow rate for several days, outperforming other designs that only lasted a few minutes.