Microfluidics is an emerging technology that is used more and more in biology experiments. Here we summarize some recent news of microfluidics.
Recently, researchers at the University of Minnesota printed microfluidic channels that can automate the production of medical sensors and other applications. During this research, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center has assisted. This research is the first time to eventually printing sensors directly onto curved biological surfaces, which would allow medical practitioners the ability to custom print sensors. Importantly, this testing method may be applied in COVID-19 cases and similar respiratory illnesses. What’s more, it also can be applied in cancer cases, for pregnancy testing and drug screening and delivery.
The researchers used a 3D printer to create the microfluid channels in a single step on a surface. The custom printer successfully printed a sample in an open lab setting. The channels created were created in a circular surface that was roughly 300 microns in diameter. Fluid could flow through these channels. The researchers could control, pump, and re-direct the liquid using valves.
In new research, Wei Li and colleagues in mechanical engineering and research and innovation in China displayed photopyroelectric microfluidics. The fluidic platform promotes the development of a unique wavy dielectrophoretic force field from a single beam of light to remarkably perform the desired loss-free manipulation of droplets and function as a "magic" wetting-proof surface. The liquid platform could navigate, fuse, pinch and cleave fluids on demand to establish cargo carriers with droplet wheels and has the potential to upgrade the maximum concentration of deliverables such as protein by 4000-fold.
The team simply stacked three homogenous layers, including a photothermal film using a graphene-doped polymer, pyroelectric crystal using a lithium niobate wafer, and a superoleophobic surface using a silica nanosphere. The three layers functioned in concert for loss-free applications of even, ultra-low surface tension fluids in the presence of a single beam of light.
Fig.1 Design of photopyroelectric microfluidics. (Li, 2020)
Recently, a team of researchers have built a novel lab-on-a-chip that can help study tumor heterogeneity to decrease resistance to cancer therapies. The researchers combined artificial intelligence, microfluidics, and nanoparticle inkjet printing in a device which enables the examination and differentiation of cancers and healthy tissues at the single-cell level.
This group overcame several challenges by combining machine learning techniques with accessible inkjet printing and microfluidics technology to develop low-cost, miniaturized biochips that are simple to prototype and capable of classifying various cell types. By including machine learning in the biochip’s workflow, the team has improved the accuracy of analysis and reduced the dependency on skilled analysts, which can also make the technology appealing to medical professionals in the developing world.
Researchers in China created a touchpad that allows users to move and manipulate individual droplets in a microfluidic device. This device works much like a phone touchscreen and adds a heightened level of control and interactivity to the emerging field of digital microfluidics. A wide range of reactions can be carried out in microfluidic devices. In particular, the technology is often used in cell-free biology, where experiments are conducted in vitro imitating conditions found in vivo. One limitation is that users have to rely on pre-set programs to control how the droplets move.
Fig.2 Schematic diagram of remote control and real-time interaction between OpenDrop DMF board and remote terminal app interface. (Liu, 2020)
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