Microfluidics is the study and design of devices that help flow and analyze liquid. The device consists of several microchannels that range from submicron to a few millimeters. These channels are so small that they can be comparable to a human strand of hair which is about 100 micrometers thick.
Microfluidics is widely used in biological sciences because they can conduct precise and controlled experiments at a faster pace and lower price. Devices like Lab-on-a-Chil (LOC) use microfluidics for applications such as Organ-on-a-chip (OOC) studies or Point of Care testing of diseases.
Features of Microfluidics
- Miniature size
- Small volumes (µL, nL,pL,fL) – micro, nano, pico or fempto-liters
- Low energy consumption
- Micro-domain effects
Microfluidic systems mix, transport, separate, or otherwise process fluids. Its application depends on passive fluid control with the help of capillary forces, forming the shape of capillary flow modifying elements, which is like flow accelerators and flow resistors. The external actuation in some applications is used additionally for fluid transport on the passive chips.
Active microfluidics is a condition in which the manipulation of the working fluid is measured by active (micro) components such as micropumps or microvalves. The function of micropumps is to supply fluids in a continuous manner and can be used for dosing.
Microvalves are used for determining the flow direction or the mode of movement of pumped liquids. All of these processes are usually carried out in a lab on a single small chip, which enhances mobility and efficiency and reduces reagent volumes and sampling.
Microfluidics for Biosensing
Biosensors are analytical devices created by combining a biological recognition element which is halted on a physiochemical transducer and measures one or more analytes. Microfluidics is a general term that denotes, in combination or individually, fluid behavior, precise control, and manipulation at the sub-millimeter scale.
Microfluidic systems tend to provide thorough processing, a reduction of sample and reagents volume, an increase in the mixing rate of the different reagents, an increase in the sensitivity of detection, and enhance transport for controlling the flow conditions.
Due to these advantages, the integration of microfluidics in biosensor technology provides new opportunities for future biosensing applications such as real-time detection, portability, increased selectivity and sensitivity, and simultaneous analysis of different analytes in a single device.
Some examples of such integration include a lab-on-a-chip (LOC) (also discussed in the introduction section). LOC is an integrated device that performs several laboratory functions on a single platform; the area of the platform ranges from square millimeters to a few square centimeters. LOCs can handle extremely small fluid volumes, down to less than a pico-liter.
The integration of biosensing and microfluidic technologies has a huge potential for future use in biomedical studies, biological engineering, environmental monitoring, point-of-care diagnostics, biomedical studies, precision agriculture, etc.
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