Facebook Patent | Composable Pfet Fluidic Device

Patent: Composable Pfet Fluidic Device

Publication Number: 10591933

Publication Date: 20200317

Applicants: Facebook

Abstract

A fluidic device controls fluid flow in channel from a source to a drain. The fluidic device may be combined with other fluidic devices to form different types of logic devices g an inverter, OR gate, etc.). And the logic devices may be incorporated into an artificial reality system (e.g., as part of a haptic assembly). In some embodiments, a fluidic device includes a gate, a channel, and a wedge. The wedge controls a rate of fluid flow within the channel based on a fluid pressure in the gate. The wedge induces a first flow rate of fluid in the channel in accordance with a low pressure state of the gate, and a second flow rate of the fluid in the channel in accordance with a high pressure state of the gate, the second flow rate greater than the first flow rate.

BACKGROUND

The present disclosure generally relates to fluidic devices for head-mounted displays (HMD) and more specifically to fluidic switching devices for use in virtual reality, augmented reality, and/or mixed reality systems.

Virtual reality (VR) is a simulated environment created by computer technology and presented to a user, such as through a VR system. In some VR systems wearable devices (e.g., glove) allow a user to interact with virtual objects. Circuitry on such wearable devices can be complex, bulky, and in some cases heavy. As a result, conventional wearable devices can detract from a user’s experience with a VR system.

SUMMARY

Embodiments of the disclosed invention include fluidic devices used in artificial reality systems. Fluidic devices are fluid handling devices that function analogous to electronic devices (e.g., an electrical transistor, an electrical diode, a resistor, a capacitor, etc.). For example, a fluidic device may be designed such that it operates as a fluidic transistor. Additionally, fluidic devices are composable, meaning that fluidic devices may be coupled together to form a composite fluidic device (e.g., a decoder). In some embodiments, groups of fluidic devices are coupled together to act as controllers for a haptic apparatuses on wearable devices (e.g., haptic gloves) for a VR system.

A fluidic device generally includes a channel that includes an input (e.g., a source) and an output (e.g. a drain). The channel directs a fluid (e.g., liquid or gas) from the input to the output. The fluidic device also includes a gate that affects the flow of fluid in the channel. For example, in some embodiments, once a threshold gate pressure is achieved (i.e., a high pressure state), the gate may restrict the fluid flow in the channel. In alternate embodiments, the flow in the channel is restricted until a threshold pressure (i.e., the high pressure state) in the gate is achieved.

In some embodiments, a fluidic device comprises a gate, a channel, and wedge. The gate is comprised of at least one chamber whose volume expands with fluid pressure within the chamber, causing a volume of the chamber to increase. In some embodiments, a high pressure state of the gate corresponds to a first chamber size. In further embodiments, a low pressure state of the gate corresponds to a second chamber size that is smaller than the first chamber size. The channel is configured to transport a fluid from a source to a drain. The source is an input that fluid enters in the channel. The drain is an output for the fluid in the channel. The wedge controls a rate of fluid flow between the source and the drain in accordance with the fluid pressure in the gate. In some embodiments, the wedge is configured to induce a first flow rate of the fluid in the channel in accordance with the low pressure state of the gate. In further embodiments, the wedge is configured to induce a second flow rate of fluid in the channel in accordance with the high pressure state of the gate, the second flow rate greater than the first flow rate. In some embodiments, such a fluidic device may be incorporated into a haptic device.

Fluidic devices, such as the fluidic device described above, may be composed to create a composite fluidic device. In some embodiments, the composite fluidic device may comprise a first fluidic device coupled to a high pressure rail at a first pressure and a low pressure rail at a second pressure. The second pressure may be less than the first pressure in certain embodiments. The first fluidic device may comprise a first channel and a first gate. The first channel is configured to transport fluid from a first source to a first drain. In some embodiments, the first source is coupled to the high pressure rail and is an input that fluid enters in the channel. The first drain includes an output path for fluid in the first channel. The first gate is configured to modulate a rate of fluid flow in the first channel by reducing a cross section of the first channel in accordance with logic instructions.

In one embodiment, a wearable device is implemented in a system for providing artificial reality experience to a user who wears the device. In more detail, the wearable device provides haptic feedback to the user in response to instructions from a console of the system. The wearable device includes at least one actuator, and a controller. The controller is composed of a plurality of fluidic devices, including at least one fluidic device described herein. In some embodiments, the fluidic devices are coupled together to form one or more composite fluidic devices. For example, a composite device may be a decoder that is used to address the at least one actuator.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is an example diagram of a composite fluidic device, in accordance with an embodiment.

FIG. 2A is an example diagram a dual rail logic device configured to perform a NOT function, according to an embodiment.

FIG. 2B is an example diagram a dual rail logic device configured to perform a NAND function, according to an embodiment.

FIG. 2C is an example diagram a two input dual rail logic device configured to perform a NOR function, according to an embodiment.

FIG. 2D is an example diagram a four input dual rail logic device configured to perform a NOR function, according to an embodiment.

FIG. 3A is a cross section of a fluidic device including side gates and a wedge, the side gates at a low pressure state, in accordance with an embodiment.

FIG. 3B is a side view of the fluidic device shown in FIG. 3A, in accordance with an embodiment.

FIG. 3C is a cross section of the fluidic device of FIG. 3A with the side gates at a high pressure state, in accordance with an embodiment.

FIG. 4A is a cross section of a jet deflection amplifying fluidic device including a gate at a low pressure state, in accordance with an embodiment.

FIG. 4B is a cross section of the fluidic device shown in FIG. 4A, with the gate at a high pressure state, in accordance with an embodiment.

FIG. 5 is a block diagram of a head-mounted device (HMD) system, in accordance with one embodiment.

FIG. 6 is an example haptic glove for interacting with virtual objects, in accordance with an embodiment.

The figures depict embodiments of the present disclosure for purposes of illustration only. One skilled in the art will readily recognize from the following description that alternative embodiments of the structures and methods illustrated herein may be employed without departing from the principles, or benefits touted, of the disclosure described herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Embodiments of the invention may include or be implemented in conjunction with an artificial reality system. Artificial reality is a form of reality that has been adjusted in some manner before presentation to a user, which may include, e.g., a virtual reality (VR), an augmented reality (AR), a mixed reality (MR), a hybrid reality, or some combination and/or derivatives thereof. Artificial reality content may include completely generated content or generated content combined with captured (e.g., real-world) content. The artificial reality content may include video, audio, haptic feedback, or some combination thereof, and any of which may be presented in a single channel or in multiple channels (such as stereo video that produces a three-dimensional effect to the viewer). Additionally, in some embodiments, artificial reality may also be associated with applications, products, accessories, services, or some combination thereof, that are used to, e.g., create content in an artificial reality and/or are otherwise used in (e.g., perform activities in) an artificial reality. The artificial reality system that provides the artificial reality content may be implemented on various platforms, including a head-mounted display (HMD) connected to a host computer system, a standalone HMD, a mobile device or computing system, or any other hardware platform capable of providing artificial reality content to one or more viewers.

Fluidic devices are fluid handling devices that function analogous to electronic devices (e.g., an electrical transistor, an electrical diode, a resistor, a capacitor, etc.). Tiny fluid (e.g., liquid or gas) devices are used in artificial reality systems. At a high level, the fluid devices function in a manner similar to conventional electrical transistors such that gate pressure may adjust a flow of a liquid through a channel from a source to a drain. Various embodiments of fluidic devices are discussed in detail below with regard to FIGS. 3A-4B. Additional examples of fluidic devices are found in U.S. Patent Application No. 62/449,323, filed on Jan. 23, 2017, U.S. Patent Application No. 62/452,242, filed on Jan. 30, 2017, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 15/683,937, filed on Aug. 23, 2017, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 15/695,272, filed on Sep. 5, 2017, and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 15/706,578, filed on Sep. 15, 2017, which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entireties.

Additionally, the fluidic devices are “composable,” in that a plurality of fluidic devices may be coupled together to generate larger structures. As a fluidic device may be designed to operate as, e.g., a fluidic transistor, multiple fluidic devices can be coupled together to create a composite device that performs certain logical functions in a manner analogous to electrical transistors being used together to form electrical circuits that perform logical functions (e.g., AND gate). Accordingly, a composite fluidic device may perform various logic functions including, e.g., an AND function, a NOT function, a NAND function, an OR function, a NOR function, an exclusive OR function, some other logical function, or some combination thereof. Moreover, multiple composite devices can be coupled together to form even larger fluidic circuits (e.g., a decoder, a controller in a haptic glove, etc.). The composite fluidic device may be structured to perform combination logic, sequential logic, or both, or it may be configured to pass values (e.g. a pass transistor or a pass-gate).

FIG. 1 is an example diagram of a composite fluidic device 100, in accordance with an embodiment. The composite fluidic device 100 includes a high pressure rail 110, a low pressure rail 120, one or more fluidic devices 130A and 130B, an input interface 142 and an output interface 144. The diagram 100 shown in FIG. 1 is merely one example, and in alternative embodiments not shown, the diagram 100 may include additional/fewer or different fluidic devices between the high pressure rail 110 and the high pressure rail 120. Likewise, the various entities of the diagram 100 may differ in different embodiments.

The high pressure rail 110 is a structure that provides a fluid at a fixed pressure. The structure is made out of a material that does not readily deform at this pressure, or in another embodiment it is sufficiently capacitive that deformation does not render the device faulty. For example, the structure may be composed of, e.g., high-durometer polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and other polymers. In some embodiments, the structure may be flexible. The structure may have a circular cross section, a rectangular cross section, or some other cross section. Alternatively, the structure may be rigid or semi-rigid. The fixed pressure is relatively constant. In some embodiments, the high pressure rail 110 is connected to a pressurized fluid source, one or more pumps, or some other device that may be used to ensure the fluid in the high pressure rail 110 is at the first pressure. The fluid may be a liquid or a gas. For example, the fluid may be water, deionized water, alcohol, oil, standard hydraulic fluids, air, and nitrogen. The pressure of fluid in the high pressure rail 110 is analogous to a rail voltage for a transistor in an electrical system, such that fluid flows away from the high pressure rail 110 toward areas with lower pressure much in the same way that a rail voltage provide potential for other parts of an electrical circuit. For example, a typical operating pressure of the fluid in the high pressure rail 110 can be 1-100 PSI (pounds per square inch).

The low pressure rail 120 is another structure that transmits the fluid. The low pressure rail 120 provides the fluid at a second pressure that is lower than the first pressure, and is generally at the lowest pressure within the composite fluidic device 100. The structure is made out of a material that does not deform at the first pressure. For example, the structure may be composed of, e.g., high-durometer PDMS, and other polymers. The low pressure rail 120 generally functions as a low pressure zone such that fluid from other parts of the composite fluidic device 100 coupled to the low pressure rail 120 flows toward the low pressure rail 120. The pressure of fluid in the low pressure rail 120 is analogous to an electrical ground in an electrical system. For example, the pressure of the fluid in the low pressure rail 120 can range from high vacuum to 15 PSI. High vacuum may be, e.g., an absolute pressure of 1.45.times.10.sup.-5 PSI or less. In one embodiment, the upper end of the low pressure rail pressure value can be defined as a difference from the high pressure rail, and in this case it could be, e.g., 5 PSI below the high rail regardless of the absolute pressure value of the high rail.

The fluidic devices 130A, 130B are fluidic devices that function analogous to transistors in electrical systems, for example, a P-channel field-effect transistor (PFET), or an N-channel field-effect transistor (NFET). As shown in FIG. 1, each of the fluidic devices 130A and 130B includes a source, a drain, and a gate. In some embodiments, there is a channel filled with fluid between the source and the drain, and the pressure of the fluid in the source is higher than the pressure of the fluid in the drain, allowing the flow in the channel to flow from the source to drain when the channel is open. In one embodiment, when the gate is at a low pressure state, the channel is open; and when the gate is at a high pressure state, the channel is closed. In another embodiment, when the gate is at a high pressure state, the channel is in an open state; and when the gate is at a low pressure state, the channel is in a closed state.

An “open” state of the channel refers to a state when the fluid in the channel is flowing from one end (e.g., the source) to the other end (e.g., the drain) at some open threshold rate. For example, the open threshold rate may be 10 cc/s. The measurement “cc/s” used throughout the specification refers to “cubic-cm/sec.” In contrast, a “closed” state of the channel refers to the state when the flow of fluid in the channel is less than some closed threshold rate. In some embodiments, the closed threshold rate may be zero flow. Alternatively, the closed threshold rate may be some rate of flow that is lower than the open threshold rate. For example, the closed threshold rate may be 0.1 cc/s. In addition, a “transitionary” state occurs when the channel transitions from an open state to a closed state or from a closed state to an open state. The “open” state of the channel is also referred to as an “ON” condition of a fluidic device, and the “closed” state of the channel is also referred to as an “OFF” condition of a fluidic device.

A “high pressure” and “low pressure” described here depends on the fluidic device structures and pressure of the fluid filling the fluidic device. In general, a “low pressure” is a pressure of the fluid that falls within a low pressure range, and a “high pressure” is a pressure of the fluid that falls within a high pressure range. The low pressure range may be thought of as a “0” and the high pressure range may be thought of as a “1.” Accordingly, the fluidic devices 130A, 130B may operate digitally using the fluid at different pressures. Moreover, different components of a fluidic device may have different high pressure ranges and different low pressure ranges. For example, a high pressure range of a gate may be significantly less than a high pressure range of a source. The range of response times for a channel to open or close can be from 0.1 ms to 30 ms.

The input interface 142 is an interface that enables the fluidic devices 130A, 130B to receive inputs. In one embodiment, an input to the fluidic device 130 is fluid at a certain pressure that is applied to certain parts of the fluidic device that can cause the fluidic device to be either an “ON” or “OFF” condition. As one example, the input may be fluid at a certain pressure that is applied to the gates of the fluid devices 130A, 130B. Similarly, the output interface 144 is an interface that enables the fluidic devices 130A, 130B to provide outputs.

FIGS. 2A-D are example diagrams of embodiments of dual rail logic devices. In general, dual rail logic devices comprise one or more logic gates. One advantage of using a dual rail logic device is that the device may use one device style, but can still perform various logic functions including, e.g., an AND function, a NOT function, a NAND function, an OR function, a NOR function, an exclusive OR function, some other logical function, or some combination thereof depending upon the combination of the logic gates that comprise the logic device. For example, the dual rail logic devices depicted in FIGS. 2A-D all use the same type of logic gate, but perform a variety of logic functions as discussed below. Additionally, by using multiple logic gates, low pressure inputs can be easily combined to create amplified, high pressure outputs. This increases the energy efficiency of the circuit. Furthermore, while FIGS. 2A-D expressly depict specific dual rail logic devices comprised of one type of logic gate, alternative dual rail logic devices that are not expressly included herein can be used to perform various logic functions including, e.g., an AND function, a NOT function, a NAND function, an OR function, a NOR function, an exclusive OR function, some other logical function, or some combination thereof.

Logic gates are the fundamental building blocks used to build larger circuit elements such as transistors and resistors. Depending upon the combination and ordering of logic gates used, different transistors and resistors can be built. Typically the medium of the circuits associated with the logic devices depicted in FIGS. 2A-D is electricity. However, in the embodiments of FIG. 2A-D, the medium of the circuits is any type of fluid, and the circuits are composed of fluidic devices. For example, what is represented as a transistor is a fluidic transistor, what is presented as a resister is a fluidic resistor, etc. In other words, just as electronic transistors and resistors can be built using combinations of different electric logic gates, fluidic transistors and resistors can also be built using combinations of different fluidic logic gates.

Note, FIGS. 2A-2D are all composed of a single type of fluidic transistor that includes a gate, a source, and a drain. The fluidic transistors as illustrated in FIGS. 2A-2D have a fluid flow from the drain at a rate that correspond to an “ON” condition of the fluidic device if the fluid pressure at the gate is in a high state. One example of such a fluidic transistor is discussed below with regard to FIGS. 3A-3C. It should be noted that such logic devices may also be based on fluidic transistors that have a fluid flow from the drain at a rate that correspond to “ON” condition of the fluidic device if the fluid pressure at the gate is in a low state. One example of such a fluidic transistor is discussed below with regard to FIGS. 4A-B.

FIG. 2A is an example diagram 200A of a dual rail logic device configured to perform a NOT function, according to an embodiment. The dual rail logic device depicted in FIG. 2A comprises a high pressure rail 210, a low pressure rail 220, a first fluidic device 230, and a resistor 240.

The first fluidic device 230 is coupled to a high pressure rail 210 at a first pressure and to a low pressure rail 220 at a second pressure, and the second pressure is less than the first pressure. The first fluidic device 230 comprises a first channel and a first gate (e.g., G1). The first channel is configured to transport a fluid from a first source (e.g., S1) to a first drain (e.g., D1). The first source is coupled to the high pressure rail 210 and is an input that fluid enters in the channel. The first drain includes an output path for fluid in the first channel. The first gate is configured to modulate a rate of fluid flow in the first channel by reducing a cross section of the first channel in accordance with logic instructions. The modulation of the rate of fluid flow in the first channel is dependent upon the configuration of the first gate as discussed in greater detail below. In some embodiments, the first fluidic device 230 is the fluidic device described below with regard to FIGS. 3A-4B. Additional examples of fluidic devices that may be the first fluidic device 230 are found in U.S. Patent Application No. 62/449,323, filed on Jan. 23, 2017, U.S. Patent Application No. 62/452,242, filed on Jan. 30, 2017, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 15/683,937, filed on Aug. 23, 2017, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 15/695,272, filed on Sep. 5, 2017, and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 15/706,578, filed on Sep. 15, 2017, which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entireties.

The dual rail logic device of FIG. 2A further comprises one or more fluidic resistors. For example, FIG. 2A comprises a fluidic resistor 240. The fluidic resistor 240 comprises an input terminal and an output terminal. The input terminal of the fluidic resistor 240 is coupled to the first drain of the first fluidic device 230. The output terminal of the fluidic resistor 240 is coupled to the low pressure rail 220. The fluidic resistor 240 is configured to slow a rate of fluid flow between the input terminal and the output terminal of the fluidic resistor 240.

The dual rail logic device depicted in FIG. 2A is configured to perform a NOT function. The first fluidic device 230 is configured such that the first fluidic device 230 is “ON” while a fluidic pressure in the first gate of the first fluidic device 230 is low. In other words, the dual rail logic device depicted in FIG. 2A is functionally an inverter. This means that for a first pressure state of the first gate, a fluid pressure at the output terminal of the fluidic resistor 240 is higher than a fluid pressure at the output terminal for a second pressure state of the first gate, given that the second pressure state is more than the first pressure state.

FIG. 2B is an example diagram 200B of a dual rail logic device configured to perform a NAND function, according to an embodiment. The dual rail logic device depicted in FIG. 2B comprises the high pressure rail 210, the low pressure rail 220, the first fluidic device 230, and the resistor 240 of FIG. 2A. Additionally, the dual rail logic device depicted in FIG. 2B comprises a second fluidic device 250. The second fluidic device is substantially the same as the first fluidic device 230. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 2B, the first fluidic device 230 and the second fluidic device 250 both use the same type of logic gate.

The second fluidic device 250 comprises a second channel and a second gate (e.g., G2). Similar to the first channel, the second channel is configured to transport fluid from a second source (e.g., S2) to a second drain (e.g., D2). The second source is an input that fluid enters the second channel. In some embodiments, such as the embodiment shown in FIG. 2B, the second source is coupled to the high pressure rail 210. The second drain includes an output path for fluid in the second channel. In some embodiments, the first drain and the second drain are coupled to the input terminal of the fluidic resistor 240. Similar to the first gate, the second gate is configured to modulate a rate of fluid flow in the second channel by reducing a cross section of the second channel in accordance with logic instructions of the first gate. The modulation of the rate of fluid flow in the second channel is also dependent upon the configuration of the second gate as discussed in greater detail below.

The dual rail logic device depicted in FIG. 2B is configured to perform a NAND function. The first fluidic device 230 and the second fluidic device 250 are configured such that the first fluidic device 230 is “ON” while a fluidic pressure in the first gate of the first fluidic device 230 is low and such that the second fluidic device 250 is “ON” while a fluidic pressure in the second gate of the second fluidic device 250 is low.

FIG. 2C is an example diagram 200C of a two input dual rail logic device configured to perform a NOR function, according to an embodiment. The two input dual rail logic device depicted in FIG. 2C comprises the high pressure rail 210, the low pressure rail 220, the first fluidic device 230, the resistor 240, and the second fluidic device 250. As discussed with regard to FIG. 2B, the first fluidic device 230 and the second fluidic device 250 both use the same type of logic gate. However the first fluidic device 230 and the second fluidic device 250 are arranged differently in FIG. 2C than in FIG. 2B, and as a result, the function performed by the dual rail fluidic device of FIG. 2C is different than the function performed by the dual rail fluidic device of FIG. 2B. Specifically, as seen in FIG. 2C, the first drain of the first fluidic device 230 is coupled to the second source of the second fluidic device 250, and the second drain of the second fluidic device 250 is coupled to the input terminal of the fluidic resistor 240.

The dual rail logic device depicted in FIG. 2C is configured to perform a NOR function. The first fluidic device 230 and the second fluidic device 250 are configured such that the first fluidic device 230 is “ON” while a fluidic pressure in the first gate of the first fluidic device 230 is low and such that the second fluidic device 250 is “ON” while a fluidic pressure in the second gate of the second fluidic device 250 is low.

FIG. 2D is an example diagram 200D of a four input dual rail logic device configured to perform a NOR function, according to an embodiment. The four input dual rail logic device depicted in FIG. 2D comprises the high pressure rail 210, the low pressure rail 220, the first fluidic device 230, and the resistor 240, and the second fluidic device 250. Additionally, the four input dual rail logic device depicted in FIG. 2D comprises a third fluidic device 260 and a fourth fluidic device 270, both of which are substantially the same as the first fluidic device 230.

The third fluidic device 260 comprises a third channel and a third gate (e.g., G3). The third channel is configured to transport fluid from a third source (e.g., S3) to a third drain (e.g., D3). The third source is an input that fluid enters the third channel. The third drain includes an output path for fluid in the third channel. The third gate is configured to modulate a rate of fluid flow in the third channel by reducing a cross section of the third channel in accordance with logic instructions of the first gate and the second gate. The modulation of the rate of fluid flow in the third channel is also dependent upon the configuration of the third gate as discussed in greater detail below.

The fourth fluidic device 270 comprises a fourth channel and a fourth gate (e.g., G4). The fourth channel is configured to transport fluid from a fourth source (e.g., S4) to a fourth drain (e.g., D4). The fourth source is an input that fluid enters the fourth channel. The fourth drain includes an output path for fluid in the fourth channel. The fourth gate is configured to modulate a rate of fluid flow in the fourth channel by reducing a cross section of the fourth channel in accordance with logic instructions of the first gate, the second gate, and the third gate. The modulation of the rate of fluid flow in the fourth channel is also dependent upon the configuration of the fourth gate as discussed in greater detail below.

In the four input dual rail logic device depicted in FIG. 2D, the first drain is coupled to the second source, the second drain is coupled to the third source and the fourth source, and the third drain and the fourth drain are coupled to the input terminal of the fluidic resistor 240.

The four input dual rail logic device depicted in FIG. 2D is configured to perform a NOR function. The first fluidic device 230, the second fluidic device 250, the third fluidic device 260, and the fourth fluidic device 270 are configured such that the first fluidic device 230 is “ON” while a fluidic pressure in the first gate of the first fluidic device 230 is low, such that the second fluidic device 250 is “ON” while a fluidic pressure in the second gate of the second fluidic device 250 is low, such that the third fluidic device 260 is “ON” while a fluidic pressure in the third gate of the third fluidic device 260 is low, and such that the fourth fluidic device 270 is “ON” while a fluidic pressure in the fourth gate of the fourth fluidic device 270 is low.

FIG. 3A is a cross section 300 of a fluidic device 305 including side gates 310A and 310B and a wedge 330, the gates 310A and 310B at a low pressure state, in accordance with an embodiment. The fluidic device 305 also includes a channel 320 that receives fluid flowing from a source (not shown) and outputs the fluid to a drain (not shown). The side gates 310A and 310B serve to displace the wedge 330 such that the wedge 330 is able to regulate fluid flow through the channel 320. The fluidic device 305 also includes a pre-loaded gate 315. The pre-loaded gate 315 is configured to control the magnitude of displacement of the wedge 330. In some embodiments, the fluidic device 305 is the fluidic device 130A or 130B shown in FIG. 1. In one embodiment, the source, the drain, and the side gates 310A and 310B function analogous to the source, drain, and gates in a field effect transistor in an electrical system.

The channel 320 is a structure that connects two ends that are referred to as the source and the drain, and the channel 320 is filled with a fluid (e.g., liquid or gas). In one embodiment, the channel 320 can be a flexible tube filled with fluid. The channel 320 may have different types of shapes, sizes and/or be made from different materials. As one example, the cross section of the channel 320 may be circular, elliptical, square, rectangular, etc. The channel 320 may be composed of materials such as silicone (a type of elastomer), plastic, etc., and example materials used are polymers such as PDMS. The size can range from 50 um to 5 mm.

The wedge 330 is positioned within the channel 320 between the source and the drain such that the wedge 330 at least partially obstructs (and in some embodiments completely blocks) fluid flow between the source and the drain. Specifically, the wedge 330 protrudes through an opening of the channel 320, into the channel 320. The wedge 330 is able to translate along the y-axis within the opening of the channel 320 such that the distance that the wedge 330 protrudes into the channel 320 can be increased or decreased. The wedge 330 fits within the opening of the channel 320 such that fluid within the channel 320 is unable to escape through the opening.

The wedge 330 may have different types of shapes, sizes and/or be made from different materials. For instance, the wedge 330 may be composed of materials such as silicone (a type of elastomer), plastic, etc., and example materials used are polymers such as PDMS. In the embodiment depicted in FIGS. 3A-C, the wedge 330 comprises a first end 335 and a second end 340. The first end 335 is located adjacent to the channel 320 and the second end 340 is located adjacent to the pre-loaded gate 315. In some embodiments, such as the embodiment shown in FIGS. 3A-C, a width (in the x axis) of the wedge 330 is tapered such that a width (in the x axis) of the first end 335 is less than a width (in the x axis) of the second end 340. In further embodiments, the width of the first end 335 is greater than a diameter of the channel 320 such that the width of the first end 335 is able to extend across the diameter of the channel 320.

The side gates 310A and 310B are a part of the fluidic device 305 and function analogous to gates of an electronic transistor in an electrical system. The side gates 310A and 310B are located outside of the channel 320 on either lateral side of the channel 320 and above the channel 320. As seen in FIG. 3A, in some embodiments, the side gates 310A and 310B are positioned such that a space exists between the side gates 310A and 310B and the wedge 330. The side gates 310A and 310B are also located such that at least a portion of each of the side gates 310A and 310B is located directly beneath at least a portion of the wedge 330. Thus the location of the side gates 310A and 310B may depend on the shape and dimensions of the wedge 330.