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Lab on a chip Enters a New Field

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

The basis of the lab-on-a-chip is to integrate thousands of biochemical operations onto a single chip that could be done by splitting a single drop of blood collected from the patient in order to get a precise diagnosis of potential diseases. Research on lab-on-a-chip primarily focuses on human diagnostics and DNA analysis. Miniaturization of biochemical operations normally handled in a laboratory has numerous advantages, such as cost efficiency, diagnostic speed and sensitivity. The emergence of the lab-on-a-chip field mainly relies on two core technologies: microfluidics and molecular biology.

The team led by Govind Kaigala at IBM Research-Zurich and the group of Moran Bercovici at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology designed a new device that can effectively control liquids and materials on the micro-scale and have demonstrated that the key to dynamic control of fluid mechanics may be electric. Their research is published on Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research team turned to electric field to control the control the motion of fluid in a way that is adjustable. When liquid contacts a surface, it develops a layer of charge; applying an electric field to this layer moves the charges, dragging the liquid with them and creating a net flow.

Using this knowledge, the team calculated a device that uses disk-shaped electrodes implanted in the bottom of a fluidic chamber to produce dipole-like flow patterns in the liquid when an electric field is applied. Placing multiple electrodes together in an array generates “virtual channels” that guide the fluid stream. By altering the voltages on the electrodes, they could then reverse the pattern to create an inner region of flow bounded by an outer region of stagnation, which is useful for selective on-demand mixing. While more applications of these flow patterns have yet to be explored, the control and flexibility the team’s device offers recommend that the lab-on-a-chip dream may finally be within grasp.

SOURCE

https://physicsworld.com/a/microfluidics-enters-a-new-field/

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