Keyword Tag Sort by

Categories: Microfluidic devices Lab-on-a-chip Engineering Integrated circuit

Microfluidic Integrated Circuit Could Help Enable Home Diagnostic Tests

ANN ARBOR, Mich.— As a way to simplify lab-on-a-chip devices that could offer quicker, cheaper and more portable medical tests, University of Michigan researchers have created microfluidic integrated circuits.

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.

Nicole Casal Moore, Tel: (734) 647-7087

Source: University of Michigan

Related News:

Fralin researchers design potential blood thinner that also unmasks... 6 December 2012, 03:02
BLACKSBURG, Va., Dec. 6, 2012 – Virginia Tech researchers have discovered a potential way to...

Graphene membranes may lead to enhanced natural gas production,... 8 October 2012, 13:34
Engineering faculty and students at the University of Colorado Boulder have produced the first...

Hundreds of biochemical analyses on a single device 26 September 2012, 02:18
Scientists at EPFL and the University of Geneva have developed a microfluidic device smaller...

Researchers Turn Viruses Into Molecular Legos 20 October 2011, 11:23
BERKELEY — Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have turned a benign virus...

Tiny Stamps for Tiny Sensors 19 October 2011, 04:51
New glass stamp may make cheaper, more precise biosensors. CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Advances in...

Golden touch makes low-temperature graphene production a reality 12 October 2011, 10:18
A method which more than halves the temperature at which high-quality graphene can be produced...

Phone losing charge? Technology created by UCLA engineers allows... 10 August 2011, 05:03
With photovoltaic polarizers, devices could be powered by sunlight, own backlight.We've all...

Graphene optical modulators could lead to ultrafast communications 9 May 2011, 06:08
BERKELEY — Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have demonstrated a new...

Novel Nanowires Boost Fuel Cell Efficiency 31 March 2011, 11:09
New Haven, Conn. — Fuel cells have been touted as a cleaner solution to tomorrow's energy...

New fluorescent OLEDs display greater efficiencies than believed... 23 March 2011, 14:10
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—University of Michigan engineering researchers have designed an exceptionally...