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!
NASA laser communications to provide Orion faster connections
30.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Pinball at the atomic level
30.03.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering