Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Silicon Micromachined High Flow Gas Pump

Technology #6502

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Yogesh B. Gianchandani
Managed By
Joohee Kim
Licensing Specialist, Physical Sciences & Engineering 734-764-8202
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending

The creation of new MEMs devices including sensors and lab-on-a-chips are becoming more reliant on microscale systems which provide better efficiency, cost effectiveness, portability and in some cases accuracy. One important component of many microscale devices are efficient micropumps which can pump fluids or gases through a system or create vacuum environments. Micropumps are important in the creation of microfluidic lab-on-a-chip devices, as well as sensors for gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, environmental and gas sensors, and air filtration devices. Current micropumps rely on valves or diaphragms to generate flow in response to electrostatic, piezoelectric or electromagnetic inputs. The reliance of these pumps on diaphragms and valves results in inefficient pumps which are prone to mechanical failure resulting in lack of reliability and lifetime issues.

Micropump uses thermal transpiration and no moving parts

A micropump system that does not rely on any moving parts has been created which will increase the efficiency, reliability and portability of micro devices in which it is used. The Knudsen micropump moves gas through the pump by the process of thermal transpiration in which gas molecules move from the cold to the hot end of the pump. The pump has a much longer lifetime since it doesn’t require moving parts, allows for high gas flow and is fabricated using a simple lithographic process. The pump can be used for the movement of gas molecules in sensing and analysis applications or to create vacuum environments.


  • Gas chromatography
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Air filtration
  • Sensing applications


  • High reliability
  • No moving parts
  • Longer pump lifetime
  • Efficient pumping of light gases