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Overcoming Technological Barriers in Microfluidics: Leakage Testing



Vania Silverio, Suvajyoti Guha, Armelle Keiser, Rucha Natu, Darwin Reyes-Hernandez, Henne van Heeren, Nicolas Verplanck, Luke Herbertson


The miniaturization of laboratory procedures for Lab-on-Chip (LoC) devices and translation to various platforms such as single cell analysis or Organ-on-Chip (OoC) systems are revolutionizing the life sciences and biomedical fields. As a result, microfluidics is gaining substantial traction as a viable technology for improving the quality and sensitivity of critical processes. Yet, standard test methods to characterize basic manufacturing steps, device performance, and safety of microfluidic devices have not been established. The successful development and widespread use of microfluidic technologies are greatly dependent on the community's success in establishing widely supported quality control protocols. One such area that requires consensus guidelines is leakage testing. There are unique challenges in preventing and detecting leaks in microfluidic systems because of their small dimensions, high surface-area to volume ratios, low flows, limited volumes, and high pressure drops. For added complexity, microfluidic devices often employ heterogenous components, including different types of connectors and fluid-contacting materials, which potentially make these types of devices more susceptible to mechanical integrity failures. The differences between microfluidic systems and traditional macroscale technologies can exacerbate the impact of a leak on the performance and safety on the microscale. To support efforts in product development and commercialization of the microfluidics community, it is critical to identify commonalities of fluid leakage in microfluidic devices and standardize the corresponding safety and performance metrics. In this review, different methods for assessing fluid leakage at the macroscale are discussed, the benefits of using different test media and materials are described, and the utility of leakage testing throughout the product life cycle are highlighted. Current leakage testing protocols and standard test methods that can be leveraged for characterization of leaks of microfluidic devices have been summarized. There is a need for quantitative metrics to provide quality assurance during or after the manufacturing process. It is also necessary to implement application-specific test methods to effectively characterize fluid leakage in microfluidic systems. Potential classification strategies that may aid in the development of future leakage test standards are also introduced. We hope that this review article will stimulate more discussions around development of leakage test standards in the academia and in the industry which will facilitate commercialization in this emerging field.
Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology


microfluidics, leakage testing, Lab on a Chip


Silverio, V. , Guha, S. , Keiser, A. , Natu, R. , Reyes-Hernandez, D. , van Heeren, H. , Verplanck, N. and Herbertson, L. (2022), Overcoming Technological Barriers in Microfluidics: Leakage Testing, Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, [online], , (Accessed June 21, 2024)


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Created September 1, 2022, Updated November 29, 2022