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  1. Atomic force microscope
  2. Atomic nanoscope
  3. Atom probe
  4. Ballistic conduction
  5. Bingel reaction
  6. Biomimetic
  7. Bio-nano generator
  8. Bionanotechnology
  9. Break junction
  10. Brownian motor
  11. Bulk micromachining
  12. Cantilever
  13. Carbon nanotube
  14. Carbyne
  15. CeNTech
  16. Chemical Compound Microarray
  17. Cluster
  18. Colloid
  19. Comb drive
  20. Computronium
  21. Coulomb blockade
  22. Diamondoids
  23. Dielectrophoresis
  24. Dip Pen Nanolithography
  25. DNA machine
  26. Ecophagy
  27. Electrochemical scanning tunneling microscope
  28. Electron beam lithography
  29. Electrospinning
  30. Engines of Creation
  31. Exponential assembly
  32. Femtotechnology
  33. Fermi point
  34. Fluctuation dissipation theorem
  35. Fluorescence interference contrast microscopy
  36. Fullerene
  37. Fungimol
  38. Gas cluster ion beam
  39. Grey goo
  40. Hacking Matter
  41. History of nanotechnology
  42. Hydrogen microsensor
  43. Inorganic nanotube
  44. Ion-beam sculpting
  45. Kelvin probe force microscope
  46. Lab-on-a-chip
  47. Langmuir-Blodgett film
  48. LifeChips
  49. List of nanoengineering topics
  50. List of nanotechnology applications
  51. List of nanotechnology topics
  52. Lotus effect
  53. Magnetic force microscope
  54. Magnetic resonance force microscopy
  55. Mechanochemistry
  56. Mechanosynthesis
  57. MEMS thermal actuator
  58. Mesotechnology
  59. Micro Contact Printing
  60. Microelectromechanical systems
  61. Microfluidics
  62. Micromachinery
  63. Molecular assembler
  64. Molecular engineering
  65. Molecular logic gate
  66. Molecular manufacturing
  67. Molecular motors
  68. Molecular recognition
  69. Molecule
  70. Nano-abacus
  71. Nanoart
  72. Nanobiotechnology
  73. Nanocar
  74. Nanochemistry
  75. Nanocomputer
  76. Nanocrystal
  77. Nanocrystalline silicon
  78. Nanocrystal solar cell
  79. Nanoelectrochemistry
  80. Nanoelectrode
  81. Nanoelectromechanical systems
  82. Nanoelectronics
  83. Nano-emissive display
  84. Nanoengineering
  85. Nanoethics
  86. Nanofactory
  87. Nanoimprint lithography
  88. Nanoionics
  89. Nanolithography
  90. Nanomanufacturing
  91. Nanomaterial based catalyst
  92. Nanomedicine
  93. Nanomorph
  94. Nanomotor
  95. Nano-optics
  96. Nanoparticle
  97. Nanoparticle tracking analysis
  98. Nanophotonics
  99. Nanopore
  100. Nanoprobe
  101. Nanoring
  102. Nanorobot
  103. Nanorod
  104. Nanoscale
  105. Nano-Science Center
  106. Nanosensor
  107. Nanoshell
  108. Nanosight
  109. Nanosocialism
  110. Nanostructure
  111. Nanotechnology
  112. Nanotechnology education
  113. Nanotechnology in fiction
  114. Nanotoxicity
  115. Nanotube
  116. Nanovid microscopy
  117. Nanowire
  118. National Nanotechnology Initiative
  119. Neowater
  120. Niemeyer-Dolan technique
  121. Ormosil
  122. Photolithography
  123. Picotechnology
  124. Programmable matter
  125. Quantum dot
  126. Quantum heterostructure
  127. Quantum point contact
  128. Quantum solvent
  129. Quantum well
  130. Quantum wire
  131. Richard Feynman
  132. Royal Society's nanotech report
  133. Scanning gate microscopy
  134. Scanning probe lithography
  135. Scanning probe microscopy
  136. Scanning tunneling microscope
  137. Scanning voltage microscopy
  138. Self-assembled monolayer
  139. Self-assembly
  140. Self reconfigurable
  141. Self-Reconfiguring Modular Robotics
  142. Self-replication
  143. Smart dust
  144. Smart material
  145. Soft lithography
  146. Spent nuclear fuel
  147. Spin polarized scanning tunneling microscopy
  148. Stone Wales defect
  149. Supramolecular assembly
  150. Supramolecular chemistry
  151. Supramolecular electronics
  152. Surface micromachining
  153. Surface plasmon resonance
  154. Synthetic molecular motors
  155. Synthetic setae
  156. Tapping AFM
  157. There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom
  158. Transfersome
  159. Utility fog


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Microfluidics deals with the behavior, precise control and manipulation of microliter and nanoliter volumes of fluids. It is a multidisciplinary field comprising physics, chemistry, engineering and biotechnology, with practical applications to the design of systems in which such small volumes of fluids will be used. Microfluidics has emerged only in the 1990s and is used in the development of DNA chips, micro-propulsion, micro-thermal technologies, and lab-on-a-chip technology.

Microscale behavior of fluids

The behavior of fluids at the microscale can differ from 'macrofluidic' behavior in that factors such as surface tension, energy dissipation, and fluidic resistance start to dominate the system. Microfluidics studies how these behaviors change, and how they can be worked around, or exploited for new uses. At these scales (channel diameters of around 10 to several hundred micrometers) some interesting and unintuitive properties appear. The Reynolds number, which characterises the presence of turbulent flow, is extremely low, therefore the flow will remain laminar (two fluids joining for example will not mix because of this, the diffusion alone will cause the two compounds to mingle).

Key application areas

Advances in microfluidics technology are revolutionizing molecular biology procedures for enzymatic analysis (e.g., glucose and lactate assays), DNA analysis (e.g., polymerase chain reaction and high-throughput sequencing), and proteomics. The basic idea of microfluidic biochips is to integrate assay operations such as detection, as well as sample pre-treatment and sample preparation on one chip.

An emerging application area for biochips is clinical pathology, especially the immediate point-of-care diagnosis of diseases. In addition, microfluidics-based devices, capable of continuous sampling and real-time testing of air/water samples for biochemical toxins and other dangerous pathogens, can serve as an always-on "bio-smoke alarm" for early warning.

DNA chips (microarrays)

Early biochips were based on the concept of a DNA microarray, e.g., the GeneChip DNAarray from Affymetrix, which is a piece of glass, plastic or silicon substrate on which pieces of DNA (probes) are affixed in a microscopic array. Similar to a DNA microarray, a protein array is a miniature array where a multitude of different capture agents, most frequently monoclonal antibodies, are deposited on a chip surface; they are used to determine the presence and/or amount of proteins in biological samples, e.g., blood. A drawback of DNA and protein arrays is that they are neither reconfigurable nor scalable after manufacture.

Continuous-flow microfluidics

These technologies are based on the manipulation of continuous liquid flow through microfabricated channels. Actuation of liquid flow is implemented either by external pressure sources, external mechanical pumps, integrated mechanical micropumps, or by electrokinetic mechanisms. Continuous-flow microfluidic operation is the mainstream approach because it is easy to implement and less sensitive to protein fouling problems. Continuous-flow devices are adequate for many well-defined and simple biochemical applications, and for certain tasks such as chemical separation, but they are less suitable for tasks requiring a high degree of flexibility or complicated fluid manipulations. These closed-channel systems are inherently difficult to integrate and scale because the parameters that govern flow field vary along the flow path making the fluid flow at any one location dependent on the properties of the entire system. sensitive microfluidic flow sensors which offer resolutions down to the nano litre range.

Digital (droplet-based) microfluidics

are manipulated on a substrate. Following the analogy of microelectronics, this approach is referred to as digital microfluidics. By using discrete unit-volume droplets, a microfluidic function can be reduced to a set of repeated basic operations, i.e., moving one unit of fluid over one unit of distance. This "digitization" method facilitates the use of a hierarchical and cell-based approach for microfluidic biochip design. Therefore, digital microfluidics offers a flexible and scalable system architecture as well as high fault-tolerance capability. Moreover, because each droplet can be controlled independently, these systems also have dynamic reconfigurability, whereby groups of unit cells in a microfluidic array can be reconfigured to change their functionality during the concurrent execution of a set of bioassays. One common actuation method for digital microfluidics is electrowetting-on-dielectric (EWOD). One limiting factor for applying EWOD to biological samples is the surface fouling due to proteins severely damages the controllability of droplets. Another recently developed technology is based on acoustically induced droplet transport employing Surface Acoustic Waves.

CAD challenges for microfluidic biochips

As microfluidic biochips evolve into multifunctional and user-reconfigurable devices, their complexity is expected to become significant due to the need for multiple and concurrent biochemical operations on the chip. There is a need to deliver the same level of CAD support to the biochip designer that the semiconductor industry now takes for granted. Listed below are some important CAD problems for microfluidic biochips.

  • Specification, modeling, and system simulation: A typical top-down design flow for microfluidic biochips can be imagined along the similar lines as that for top-down integrated circuit design. First, biochip users (e.g., biochemists) provide the protocol for nano- and micro-scale bioassays. This protocol must be translated to a behavioral model that can be simulated and synthesized. This model can be used to perform behavioral-level simulation to verify the assay functionality at the high level. Efficient tools for reduced-order (compact) modeling and device simulation are also needed. These tools should model and simulate the laminar flow of nanoliter fluid volumes in microchannels, electrohydrodynamic effects, and the electrowetting phenomenon.
  • System-level synthesis: The goal of synthesis is to generate an optimized microfluidic array (with metrics such as area, throughput, and defect tolerance) for a given specification. It includes architectural-level synthesis (e.g., scheduling and resource binding) and geometry-level synthesis (e.g., module placement and electrical pin connections). A microfluidic module library must also be provided as an input of the synthesis procedure. This module library, analogous to a standard cell library used in cell-based VLSI design, includes different microfluidic functional modules, such as mixers and storage units. Each module must be experimentally characterized by its function (mixing, storing, detection, etc.) and parameters such as width, length, and operation duration.
  • Droplet routing: Droplet pathways need to be appropriately determined on a microfluidic array with placed modules and scheduled bioassay operations.
  • Design verification: The synthesis results must be coupled with detailed physical information from the module library to obtain a 3-D geometrical model, which can be can be used to perform physical-level simulation and design verification at the low level.
  • Test and reconfiguration: These techniques are needed to bypass faulty components. Bioassay operations bound to these faulty resources in the original design need to be remapped to other fault-free resources. Due to the strict resource constraints in the fabricated biochip, alterations in the resource binding, schedule, and physical design must be carried out carefully.

A system-level synthesis tool can allow the mapping of a set of bioassays to a biochip with defective unit cells. Thus we do not need to discard the defective biochip, thereby leading to higher yield and lower cost.

 Glass Microfluidic devices
Glass Microfluidic devices

External information

Tutorials and summaries

  • A Dielectrophoresis Primer
  • MIFLUS - Microfluidics Terminology tree

Conference and journal papers

  • T. Thorsen, S. Maerkl and S. Quake, "Microfluidic large-scale integration", Science, vol. 298, pp. 580-584, 2002
  • E. Verpoorte and N. F. De Rooij, "Microfluidics meets MEMS", Proceedings of the IEEE, vol. 91, pp. 930-953, 2003.
  • V. Srinivasan, V. K. Pamula, and R. B. Fair, "An integrated digital microfluidic lab-on-a-chip for clinical diagnostics on human physiological fluids," Lab on a Chip, pp. 310-315, 2004.
  • M. G. Pollack, R. B. Fair and A. D. Shenderov, "Electrowetting-based actuation of liquid droplets for microfluidic applications", Applied Physics Letters, vol. 77, pp. 1725-1726, 2000.
  • S. K. Cho, S. K. Fan, H. Moon, and C. J Kim, "Toward digital microfluidic circuits: creating, transporting, cutting and merging liquid droplets by electrowetting-based actuation", Proc. IEEE MEMS Conf., pp. 32-52. 2002.
  • A. N. Chatterjee and N.R. Aluru, "Combined circuit/device modeling and simulation of integrated microfluidic systems", Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems, vol. 14, pp. 81-95, 2005.
  • J. Zeng and F. T. Korsmeyer, "Principles of droplet electrohydrodynamics for lab-on-a-chip", Lab on a Chip, vol. 4, pp. 265-277, 2004.
  • F. Su and K. Chakrabarty, "Unified high-level synthesis and module placement for defect-tolerant microfluidic biochips", Proc. IEEE/ACM Design Automation Conference, pp. 825-830, 2005.
  • K. Chakrabarty and J. Zeng, "Design automation for microfluidics-based biochips", ACM Journal on Emerging Technologies in Computing Systems, vol. 1, pp. 186-223, December 2005.
  • F. Su, K. Chakrabarty and R. B. Fair, "Microfluidics-based biochips: technology issues, implementation platforms, and design automation challenges", IEEE Transactions on Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits & Systems, vol. 25, pp. 211-223, February 2006.
  • T. Mukherjee, Design automation issues for biofluidic microchips, Proc. Int. Conf. CAD, 2005.


  • (2005) J. P. Kutter and Y. Fintschenko, eds.: Separation Methods In Microanalytical Systems. CRC Press. ISBN 0-8247-2530-1.
  • (2004) Geschke, Klank & Telleman, eds.: Microsystem Engineering of Lab-on-a-chip Devices, 2nd ed, John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 3-527-30733-8.
  • (2003) Oosterbroek & van den Berg, eds.: Lab-on-a-Chip. Elsevier. ISBN 0-444-51100-8.
  • (1999) Manz & Becker, eds.: Microsystem Technology in Chemistry and Life Sciences. Springer. ISBN 3-540-65555-7.
  • Nguyen, N.T.; S. Wereley (2002). Fundamentals and Application of Microfluidics. Artech House. ISBN 1-58053-343-4.
  • Zhang, T.; K. Chakrabarty, R. B. Fair (2002). Microelectrofluidic Systems: Modeling and Simulation. CRC Press. ISBN 0-8493-1276-0.
  • Saliterman, S (2006). Fundamentals of BioMEMS and Medical Microdevices. SPIE. ISBN 0-8194-5977-1.
  • Tabeling, P (2006). Introduction to Microfluidics. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-856864-9.
  • Wilkes, J.O. (2005). Fluid Mechanics for Chemical Engineers with Microfluidics and CFD, 2nd ed, Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-148212-2.

This article includes text from Krishnendu Chakrabarty's column in the ACM SIGDA e-newsletter.
Richard Fair, Fei Su and Vamsee Pamula also contributed to the original text which can be found at [1] and was wikified by Igor Markov.

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