Music, rather than electromechanical valves, can drive experimental samples through a lab-on-a-chip in a new system developed at the University of Michigan. This development could significantly simplify the process of conducting experiments in microfluidic devices.
A paper on the research will be published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of July 20.
A lab-on-a-chip, or microfluidic device, integrates multiple laboratory functions onto one chip just millimeters or centimeters in size. The devices allow researchers to experiment on tiny sample sizes, and also to simultaneously perform multiple experiments on the same material. There is hope that they could lead to instant home tests for illnesses, food contaminants and toxic gases, among other advances.
To do an experiment in a microfluidic device today, researchers often use dozens of air hoses, valves and electrical connections between the chip and a computer to move, mix and split pin-prick drops of fluid in the device's microscopic channels and divots.
"You quickly lose the advantage of a small microfluidic system," said Mark Burns, professor and chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering and a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
"You'd really like to see something the size of an iPhone that you could sneeze onto and it would tell you if you have the flu. What hasn't been developed for such a small system is the pneumatics---the mechanisms for moving chemicals and samples around on the device."
The U-M researchers use sound waves to drive a unique pneumatic system that does not require electromechanical valves. Instead, musical notes produce the air pressure to control droplets in the device. The U-M system requires only one "off-chip" connection.
"This system is a lot like fiberoptics, or cable television. Nobody's dragging 200 separate wires all over your house to power all those channels," Burns said. "There's one cable signal that gets decoded."
The system developed by Burns, chemical engineering doctoral student Sean Langelier, and their collaborators replaces these air hoses, valves and electrical connections with what are called resonance cavities. The resonance cavities are tubes of specific lengths that amplify particular musical notes.
These cavities are connected on one end to channels in the microfluidic device, and on the other end to a speaker, which is connected to a computer. The computer generates the notes, or chords. The resonance cavities amplify those notes and the sound waves push air through a hole in the resonance cavity to their assigned channel. The air then nudges the droplets in the microfluidic device along.
"Each resonance cavity on the device is designed to amplify a specific tone and turn it into a useful pressure," Langelier said. "If I play one note, one droplet moves. If I play a three-note chord, three move, and so on. And because the cavities don't communicate with each other, I can vary the strength of the individual notes within the chords to move a given drop faster or slower."
Burns describes the set-up as the reverse of a bell choir. Rather than ringing a bell to create sound waves in the air, which are heard as music, this system uses music to create sound waves in the device, which in turn, move the experimental droplets.
"I think this is a very clever system," Burns said. "It's a way to make the connections between the microfluidic world and the real world much simpler."
The new system is still external to the chip, but the researchers are working to make it smaller and incorporate it on a microfluidic device. That would be a step closer to a smartphone-sized home flu test.
The paper is called, "Acoustically-driven programmable liquid motion using resonance cavities." Other authors are U-M chemical engineering graduate students Dustin Chang and Ramsey Zeitoun. The research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. The University is pursuing patent protection for the intellectual property, and is seeking commercialization partners to help bring the
For more information:Mark Burns: www.engin.umich.edu/dept/cheme/people/burns.html
Nicole Casal Moore | Newswise Science News
The big clean up after stress
25.05.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Complementing conventional antibiotics
24.05.2018 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering
24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy