The present and future role of microfluidics in biomedical research. Sackmann, E., K., Fulton, A., L., & Beebe, D., J. Nature, 2014.
The present and future role of microfluidics in biomedical research [pdf]Paper  The present and future role of microfluidics in biomedical research [pdf]Website  abstract   bibtex   
Microfluidics, a technology characterized by the engineered manipulation of fluids at the submillimetre scale, has shown considerable promise for improving diagnostics and biology research. Certain properties of microfluidic technologies, such as rapid sample processing and the precise control of fluids in an assay, have made them attractive candidates to replace traditional experimental approaches. Here we analyse the progress made by lab-on-a-chip microtechnologies in recent years, and discuss the clinical and research areas in which they have made the greatest impact. We also suggest directions that biologists, engineers and clinicians can take to help this technology live up to its potential. M ore than a decade ago, we wrote that ''microfluidics has the potential to significantly change the way modern biology is performed'' 1 . Indeed, we were part of a chorus of researchers that recognised the possibility of new microfluidic tools making sub-stantial contributions to biology and medical research 2–5 . The optimism surrounding microfluidics was well warranted, given the compelling advantages that microfluidic approaches could possibly have over tra-ditional assays used in cell biology. Conceptually, the idea of microflui-dics is that fluids can be precisely manipulated using a microscale device built with technologies first developed by the semiconductor industry and later expanded by the micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) field. These devices, commonly referred to as miniaturized total analysis systems (mTASs) 6,7 or lab-on-a-chip (LoC) technologies, could be applied to biology research to streamline complex assay protocols; to reduce the sample volume substantially; to reduce the cost of reagents and maximize information gleaned from precious samples; to provide gains in scalabi-lity for screening applications and batch sample processing analogous to multi-well plates; and to provide the investigator with substantially more control and predictability of the spatio-temporal dynamics of the cell microenvironment. The field of microfluidics is characterized by the study and manipu-lation of fluids at the submillimetre length scale. The fluid phenomena that dominate liquids at this length scale are measurably different from those that dominate at the macroscale (Box 1). For example, the relative effect of the force produced by gravity at microscale dimensions is greatly reduced compared to its dominance at the macroscale. Conversely, sur-face tension and capillary forces are more dominant at the microscale; these forces can be used for a variety of tasks, such as passively pumping fluids in microchannels 8

Downloads: 0