Microfluidics made easy

Written for Chemistry World by Eleanor Hall

Automated design helps researchers find the right chip for the job

Scientists in the US have devised an algorithmic process to speed up the design of microfluidic chips, generating a library containing thousands of different chip designs that researchers can search by functionality.

Microfluidic chips, which are widely used in areas such as disease diagnostics and DNA sequencing, consist of tiny channels etched into a glass or plastic. These microchannels are connected to achieve a specific function, for example mixing fluids. The design process, however, has remained relatively unchanged since their emergence as William Grover from the University of California, who led the new study, explains: ’We design them by hand and we test them – if they work great, but more often than not, they don’t, so then I have to start all over again. That process is so slow and inefficient.’

With a new online database created by Grover and his team, even researchers with no microfluidics experience can find the perfect chip to suit their needs. Grover’s team created a computer program that generates thousands of random microfluidic chip designs and simulates their behaviour. The database collects these simulated designs, and users can query it to find chips suitable for given tasks.

Read the full article in Chemistry World.

Random design of microfluidics

Junchao Wang, Philip Brisk and William H. Grover

Lab Chip, 2016, Advance Article

DOI: 10.1039/C6LC00758A, Paper

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