Setup : OB1 microfluidc flow controller + 10/1 valve + IBIDI © flow cell

Microfluidic perfusion: medium switch and custom flow patterns in IBIDI© chips

Medium switch is widely used in cell biology. One application is the study of cells behavior under given flow conditions for different samples.

In this tutorial we walk you through the steps of a fast and stable medium switch using IBIDI© flow cells.

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Ensure a smooth sample injection


Smooth flow enhances visualisation without loss of focus


Setup automation using our powerful scheduler – No longer need to come by the lab at midnight !


High resolution flow control unlocks possibilities

Principle & Benefits

The piezo technology used to perform pressure driven flow control allows a smooth and accurate flow control. It makes it perfectly suited to nurture fragile cells. In comparison, conventional techniques involving syringe pumps or peristaltic pump are the source of some oscillations that may damage cells.

Visualization is enhanced as the smooth flow allows a sharp focus on a constant focal plane.

Biological compatibility and low cross-contamination are ensured as wetted material are Glass and PTFE or Tygon.


  • Cell culture on chip
  • Shear stress assays
  • Cell response to medium change
  • Drug screening
  • Toxicity tests
  • Organs on chip
  • Cell migration
  • Adherent cells under flow conditions
  • Cell-based Microscopy Assays



Elveflow© pressure & flow control instrument (OB1 MkIII)
MUX Distributor (10/1 valve)
Sample reservoirs (a Small Reservoir, Medium Reservoir or a Large Microfluidic Reservoir), one for each medium sample
IBIDI© device

Set-up diagram

The Ibidi© chips used in this application note are closed flow chambers. They come in different versions with different channel volumes and with up to 6 channels on the same chip. The large observation area makes them perfectly suited for microscopy monitoring.

Using 6 channels simultaneously allows a higher throughput for statistical datas. It is also possible to run the experiment under different conditions to study the effect of these conditions.


Smooth sample switch

Using the 10/1 valve and the ESI software it is possible to easily perform sample switch without any disruptive flow.

Check out our related application note that will walk you through the different steps.

The 0.005 %FS stability allows a 10 µbar pressure stability for the smaller pressure range. This high resolution ensures a smooth and stable flow and no damage for cells.

Physiological condition mimicking

High resolution and fast response time allow the use of accurate custom pressure patterns to mimic physioligical conditions. To do so, one has to input a .txt file.

In the following example we apply one shear stress waveform to cultured cells. The 835ms is set to mimic heart rate through a vessel. It is possible to apply these waveforms repeatedly to the cultured cells for  days.

Using the geometry of these slides and the desired shear stress, the necessary flow rates for each waveform for each chip are also given in the attachment.

Hereafter is average shear stress of interest for us in order to mimic the heartbeat and monitor cells behaviour. It correspond to the systole blood pressure.

Physiological flow conditions mimicking

We input the waveform as a .txt file and monitor the read pressure (equals the average shear stress). One can also use in addition a flow sensor if the flow rate is of interest.

Setup automation

The powerful and user friendly software enhances flow control and setup automation for long run experiment.


Elveflow offers a high resolution microfluidic flow controller perfectly suited to mimic physiological conditions.  This hardware is backed with a powerful and user friendly software allowing setup automation for days . The combination of this flow controller along with valves, and IBIDI© chips is the perfect partner for cell based assays.

Related publications

A microfluidic circulatory system integrated with capillary-assisted pressure sensors, Y. Chen, H. N. Chan, S. A. Michael, Y. Shen, Y. Chen, Q. Tian, L. Huang and H. Wu, Lab Chip, 2017, DOI:10.1039/C6LC01427E.

Related Products

Related tutorials

How to perform switch with a Mux Distributor and to control the flow during these switches ?


How to perform cell culture on a chip ?



We  provide the only microfluidic flow control system using Piezo technology that enables a blazing fast flow change in your microdevice.

Piezo electric microfluidics flow control


We  provide the only microfluidic flow control system using Piezo technology that enables a blazing fast flow change in your microdevice.

Piezo electric microfluidics flow control