Tissue Models

microfluidic device



Microfluidic device

Microfluidics deals with the behaviour, precise control and manipulation of fluids that are geometrically constrained to a small, typically sub-millimeter, scale at which capillary penetration governs mass transport. It is a multidisciplinary field at the intersection of engineering, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, nanotechnology, and biotechnology, with practical applications in the design of systems in which low volumes of fluids are processed to achieve multiplexing, automation, and high-throughput screening. Microfluidics emerged in the beginning of the 1980s and is used in the development of inkjet printheads, DNA chips, lab-on-a-chip technology, micro-propulsion, and micro-thermal technologies.

Typically, micro means one of the following features:

small volumes (μL, nL, pL, fL)
small size
low energy consumption
effects of the microdomain

Typically in microfluidic systems fluids are transported, mixed, separated or otherwise processed. The various applications of such systems rely on passive fluid control using capillary forces, in the form of capillary flow modifying elements, akin to flow resistors and flow accelerators. In some applications, external actuation means are additionally used for a directed transport of the media. Examples are rotary drives applying centrifugal forces for the fluid transport on the passive chips. Active microfluidics refers to the defined manipulation of the working fluid by active (micro) components such as micropumps or microvalves. Micropumps supply fluids in a continuous manner or are used for dosing. Microvalves determine the flow direction or the mode of movement of pumped liquids. Often processes which are normally carried out in a lab are miniaturised on a single chip in order to enhance efficiency and mobility as well as reducing sample and reagent volumes.

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