Microfluidics is where science and engineering meet. In a typical microfluidics research group, engineers and scientists collaborate side by side to advance scientific discoveries or develop innovative products. It is customary in such multidisciplinary environments to see a biologist troubleshooting a fluid delivery pump, or connecting a thermal or optical sensor. On the other hand, it is not unusual to see a mechanical engineer culturing cells or running a PCR test. There are tremendous amounts of Microfluidics methods and protocols created as a result of such collaborations. It could be challenging to navigate the web to browse through hundreds of thousands of published Microfluidics articles or Microfluidics blogs or webpages to find answer to simple questions. The interdisciplinary nature of Microfluidics projects could result in cases where a serious challenge faced by people out of their discipline that have easy solution tipped by an expert.
uFluidix’s staff and engineers deal with microfluidics questions and challenges on daily basis. Many clients get help to troubleshoot their systems or get tips and new directions to redesign their microfluidic device. In this Resources section of the uFluidix website, there are many original articles written by uFluidix team to answer questions and bring clarifications. Here is a summary and classification of the articles in the Microfluidic Resources Section.
If you are new to the domain and not sure what is Microfluidics, this page and its sub-pages describe the term. Microfluidics is a combination of “Micro” and “Fluidic”. Does “micro” refer to the size of the microfluidic device and its features such as channels? Or it points to the micro liters of fluidic that been handled? What are different types of microfluidics?
The term “chip” for Microfluidics is borrowed from electronics. Merriam-Webster dictionary describes chip as “a small usually thin and flat piece (as of wood or stone) cut, struck, or flaked off. “ It pretty accurate description for microfluidics chip to think of them as a small, thin and flat piece. But there is a bit more into microfluidic chips. For example how they are connected to other instruments, or used. There are terms like “lab on a chip”, or “chip in a lab”. This page in simple language describes microfluidic chips.
Many devices are used by Microfluidics groups that handle small amount of fluid. It ranges from pumps, connectors, sensors, tubes, channels, cartridges, or larger equipment such as inkjet printers, 3D printers, gene sequencers, cell sorters, and many more. It can be confusing. In this page we offer a description for a “microfluidic device” and what it stands for. We describe different types of microfluidic devices such as straight channel, Y-Junction, T-junction, Cross-Junction, spiral, merging, splitting, micromixers, and more.
Microfluidic chips are mainly fabricated by stacking layers on top of each other and sticking (bonding) these layers together and to connectors. There are a dozen methods to fabricate the microfluidic layers including casting, stamping (embossing), rolling, etching, injection molding. The selection of manufacturing process largely depends on the size of microfluidic features and material needs. In this page uFluidix engineers summarize different fabrication methods and compare and contrast them.
When planning and preparing an experiment involving a microfluidic device, two types of knowledge are needed. First is how to design and fabricate the microfluidic chip to serve the intended purpose. Second, is how to use or operate the microfluidic setup including protocols. The conceptual design, CAD design, and fabrication steps need more engineering and technical background. There are certain important questions such as microfluidic chip material, features size and geometry, fluid delivery strategy, inlet/outlet system, sealing and more which need to be answered early on during development cycle. Here we have gathered valuable and concise articles for beginner or skilled designers to safely pass through this stage.
Many users inherit a microfluidic system, or purchase a microfluidic setup including chips, pumps and connections. For such users, the main questions are how to connect tubing, how to avoid bubble in the microchannels, how to avoid channel burst by controlling flow rates, etc.. We have also included useful tips and videos to help with running microfluidic experiments.
There are hundreds of thousands published articles in the Microfluidics domain as well as thousands of review articles. It could be overwhelming to find relevant and accurate information. uFluidix technical writers have focused in each application of microfluidics and have written several Microfluidics review articles. Each article first describes the underlying technology in simple language, and then mentions the top research work in the domain. For instance in the area of blood cell separation, what are the microfluidic strategies and where are example of microfluidic blood cell separation devices.
Applications of Microfluidics technology extends over physical or biological sciences, and most engineering disciplines. To give a general idea wherever an experiment or process has traditionally dealt with limited amount of liquid, the use of microfluidics has been curiously examined. In many applications, microfluidics is THE enabling technology. For instance in point of care diagnostics, single cell sequencing, or organ-on-a-chip devices. In this section of Resources page the most notable usages of Microfluidics is summarized in a concise and efficient way. Easy 1-2 page articles describe the applications, and role of Microfluidics. The list of application areas includes: Microfluidic Cell Sorting, Gene Delivery, Organ on a chip, droplet microfluidics, Fertility aid using microfluidics, Tumor Cell Capture, Point of Care diagnostics, Microfluidics based Nucleic Acid Amplification, Exosome research, Drusg Toxicity Screening, Micro Particle Synthesis, C-elegans research using microfluidic devices, new drug delivery devices that use microfluidics, Microarrays, Organoid Synthesis, Single cell analysis, and regenerative Medicine.
Microfluidics is a very rapidly evolving domain. Journal articles are at least 2 years behind the current state of work. The best way to learn about the most recent advances and trends in the domain is to attend conferences and presentations. Every year uFluidix Teams puts together a comprehensive list of most credible conferences in the domain of microfluidics. In the Microfluidics Conferences page of the Resources section, readers can find out about the upcoming event in their area of interest and plan in advance.