Asia and South Pacific Design Automation Conference (ASP-DAC)
Microfluidic devices, often in the form of Labs-on-a-Chip (LoCs), are successfully utilized in many domains such as medicine, chemistry, biology, etc. However, neither the fabrication process nor the respectively used materials are perfect and, thus, defects are frequently induced into the actual physical realization of the device. This is especially critical for sensitive devices such as droplet-based microfluidic networks that are able to route droplets inside channels along different paths by only exploiting passive hydrodynamic effects. However, these passive hydrodynamic effects are very sensitive and already slight changes of parameters (e.g., in the channel width) can alter the behavior, even in such a way that the intended functionality of the network breaks. Hence, it is important that microfluidic networks become robust against such defects in order to prevent erroneous behavior. But considering such defects during the design process is a non-trivial task and, therefore, designers mostly neglected such considerations thus far. To overcome this problem, we propose a robustness improvement process that allows to optimize an initial design in such a way that it becomes more robust against defects (while still retaining the original behavior of the initial design). To this end, we first utilize a metric to compare the robustness of different designs and, afterwards, discuss methods that aim to improve the robustness. The metric and methods are demonstrated by an example and also tested on several networks to show the validity of the robustness improvement process.