The Introduction and Application of Microfluidics
Microfluidics deals with the behaviour, precise control and manipulation of fluids that are geometrically constrained to a small, typically sub-millimeter, scale. 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.
Figure 1 A Classical Microfluidic Chip
(A) Optical micrograph showing six microchemostats that operate in parallel on a single chip. Various inputs have been loaded with food dyes to visualize channels and sub-elements of the microchemostats. The coin is 18 mm in diameter. (B) Optical micrograph showing a single microchemostat and its main components. Scale bar, 2 mm. (C) Schematic diagram of a microchemostat in continuous circulation mode. Elements such as the growth loop with individually addressable connected segments, the peristaltic pump, supply channels, and input/output ports are labeled. (D) Isolation of a segment from the rest of the growth chamber during cleaning and dilution mode. A lysis buffer (indicated in red) is introduced into the chip through the lysis buffer port. Integrated microvalves direct the buffer through the segment, flushing out cells, including those adhering to chamber walls. The segment is then rinsed with fresh sterile medium and reunited with the rest of the growth chamber.