We propose a finite element model which describes the dynamic behavior of hydrogels for step-responses and quasi-static regimes. The material properties are implemented in a fluid structure interaction (FSI) model which simulates the swelling behavior of hydrogels within a micro-valve. The resulting volume change effects the fluid domain describing the mass-flow behavior of the micro-valve. Furthermore, the concept is implemented in a high-level circuit and flow chart model to efficiently predict the response behavior of hydrogel-based micro-valves.
With these tools a foundation is set to efficiently simulate microfluidic systems with the aim to develop a fully computer-aided design process. The presented method will help to better understand, predict and visualize the behavior of hydrogels and support the development of highly integrated hydrogel-based microfluidic circuits.