Friday, April 21, 2006

Microfluidics – The Next Generation Lab

Microfluidics is the manipulation of fluids on the microscale. It promises to do for the field of biotech what the transistor did for the field of electronics. In biotech, the focal target is called β€œLab-on-a-Chip.” By creating valves, mixers, separators, filters, and analyzers on the micro-level, one creates a whole new type of lab.

Microfluidics brings several advantages to the lab. First, it requires only a small amount of sample and reagent to operate, thus reducing the cost. Second, chemical reactions in microfluidics occur faster than in macrofluidics which speeds up the process. This size, cost, and speed advantage makes microfluidics ideal for lab sample processing.

Measurements of microfluidics are a key element of many systems. In this application researchers use electrical detectors employing electrochemical methods to detect the concentration of proteins in a fluid.

Caliper develops Lab-on-a-Chip products which use micro fabricated channels in the sub-millimeter level. It uses pressure or voltage to move the fluids, and an optical system to measure the characteristics of the fluid.

Other applications include handheld chemical analyzers, and cell manipulation sorting.

Virtual instrumentation applies motion, vision, and other tools to control and manage the microfluidics manufacturing and test process. For example, Data Science Automation created a microfluidics system for Morewood Molecular services.

Best regards,
Hall T.