Microfluidics

Microfluidics is a multidisciplinary field intersecting engineering, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, nanotechnology, and biotechnology, with practical applications to 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. It deals with the behavior, precise control and manipulation of fluids that are geometrically constrained to a small, typically sub-millimeter, scale. Typically, micro means one of the following features:

1. small volumes (µL, nL, pL, fL)
2. small size
3. low energy consumption
4. effects of the micro domain

Typically fluids are moved, mixed, separated or otherwise processed. Numerous applications employ passive fluid control techniques like capillary forces. 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 micro valves. Micro pumps supply fluids in a continuous manner or are used for dosing. Micro valves determine the flow direction or the mode of movement of pumped liquids. Often processes which are normally carried out in a lab are miniaturized on a single chip in order to enhance efficiency and mobility as well as reducing sample and reagent volumes.

  • Etching Microstructures with Lasers

    Structuring process for glass using direct laser ablation with ultrafast laser pulses. Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen / Volker Lannert.

    Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

  • Flow at the nanoscale: what stops a drop and keeps nanobubbles alive

    All of us have seen it: a raindrop running down the windowpane. It stops at a certain point, is met by a second raindrop and the two join up before continuing to run down the pane. Very small irregularities or dirt on the windowpane appear to stop the course of the raindrops. If the surface was entirely smooth and chemically clean, the raindrops would be able to flow unhindered. Surface defects such as small bumps and dimples as well as chemical contaminants stop the liquid drops.
    These are everyday phenomena everyone knows and can observe with the naked eye.

  • Multi-organ platform for risk assessment of nanomaterials - Fraunhofer IBMT in project HISENTS

    Logo HISENTS

    European scientists develop a multimodular microchip platform for predicting the behaviour of nanomaterials in the body. Nanomaterials are already part of everyday life in our modern society. New applications, along with continuously rising quantities being produced, have led to an increased exposure to nanomaterials for both people and the environment. Predicting the behaviour of nanomaterials in organisms and extensive risk assessments are currently difficult because we are missing prediction models.

  • Schnelle individualisierte Therapiewahl durch Zellsortierung mit Licht

    Im Blut zirkulierende Zellen sowie Biomoleküle sind Träger diagnostischer Information, deren Analyse einen Schlüssel für hochwirksame, individuelle Therapiekonzepte darstellt. Um diese Information zu erschließen, haben Wissenschaftler des Fraunhofer-Instituts für Lasertechnik ILT den AnaLighter, einen Mikrochip-basierten Sorter entwickelt. Mit Licht werden klinisch relevante Zellen in einer Blutprobe nachgewiesen und für weitere Untersuchungen schonend isoliert. Der AnaLighter wird erstmalig vom 12. bis 14. April auf der Medtec 2016 in Stuttgart vorgestellt.

  • Wie Materialoberflächen Zellgemeinschaften steuern

    Wie Materialoberflächen Zellgemeinschaften steuern picture 2 | Jenaer Forschern ist es gelungen, Polymeroberflächen von künstlichen Blutgefäßen so zu verändern, dass sie die Anhaftung der Blutplättchen und damit die Blutgerinnung wesentlich reduzieren. Foto: Jan-Peter Kasper/FSU

    Von der Natur inspiriert: Materialwissenschaftler der Uni Jena nutzen strukturierte Oberflächen, um medizinische Implantate sicherer zu machen