Just as electronic circuits intelligently route the flow of electricity on computer chips without external controls, these microfluidic circuits regulate the flow of fluid through their devices without instructions from outside systems.
A paper on the technology is newly published online in Nature Physics.
A microfluidic device, or lab-on-a-chip, integrates multiple laboratory functions onto one chip just centimeters in size. The devices allow researchers to experiment on tiny sample sizes, and also to simultaneously perform multiple experiments on the same material. They can be engineered to mimic the human body more closely than the Petri dish does. They could lead to instant home tests for illnesses, food contaminants and toxic gases, among other advances.
“In most microfluidic devices today, there are essentially little fingers or pressure forces that open and close each individual valve to route fluid through the device during experiments. That is, there is an extra layer of control machinery that is required to manipulate the current in the fluidic circuit,” said Shu Takayama, the principal investigator on the project. Takayama is an associate professor in the U-M Department of Biomedical Engineering.
That’s similar to how electronic circuits were manipulated a century ago. Then, with the development of the integrated circuit, the “thinking” became embedded in the chip itself—a technological breakthrough that enabled personal computers, Takayama said.
“We have literally made a microfluidic integrated circuit,” said Bobak Mosadegh, a doctoral student in Takayama’s lab who is first author of the paper.
The external controls that power today’s microfluidic devices can be cumbersome. Each valve on a chip (and there could be dozens of them) requires its own electromechanical push from an off-chip actuator or pump. This has made it difficult to shrink microfluidic systems to palm- or fingertip-sized diagnostic devices.
The Takayama lab’s innovation is a step in this direction. His research group has devised a strategy to produce the fluidic counterparts of key electrical components including transistors, diodes, resistors and capacitors, and to efficiently network these components to automatically regulate fluid flow within the device.
These components are made using conventional techniques, so they are compatible with all other microfluidic components such as mixers, filters and cell culture chambers, the researchers say.
“We’ve made a versatile control system,” Mosadegh said. “We envision that this technology will become a platform for researchers and companies in the microfluidics field to develop sophisticated self-controlled microfluidic devices that automatically process biofluids such as blood and pharmaceuticals for diagnostics or other applications.
“Just as the integrated circuit brought the digital information processing power of computers to the people, we envision our microfluidic analog will be able to do the same for cellular and biochemical information.”
The paper is titled “Integrated Elastomeric Components for Autonomous Regulation of Sequential and Oscillatory Flow Switching in Microfluidic Devices.” This research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research. Also contributing were researchers from the U-M departments of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering as well as the Macromolecular Science and Engineering Center.
The university is pursuing patent protection for the intellectual property, and is seeking commercialization partners to help bring the technology to market.Michigan Engineering:
Nicole Casal Moore | EurekAlert!
First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'
26.05.2017 | University of Leicester
Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect
24.05.2017 | Vienna University of Technology
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy