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Microfluidics refers to the manipulation of fluids in microscale devices. Commonly called "labs on a chip," microfluidic systems are used to study and analyze very small-scale chemical or biological samples, replacing the extremely expensive and cumbersome instruments used for traditional biological analyses. Listed in 2001 among the "10 Emerging Technologies That Will Change the World" by the MIT Technology Review, microfluidics is considered just as revolutionary for biology and chemistry as microprocessors have been to electronics and IT, and it applies to a huge market.
Today, this young discipline, which began to take off in the 2000s with closed systems made up of microchannel networks, is itself being radically transformed by the discovery made by the group of researchers from Polytechnique and McGill University, which reinforces the theoretical and experimental foundations of open-space microfluidics.
Technology - Channels - Microfluidics - Types - Analyses
This technology, which eliminates channels, competes favourably with conventional microfluidics for certain types of analyses. Indeed, the classical configuration of closed-channel microfluidic devices provides several disadvantages: the scale of the channel cross-sections increases the stress that cells undergo when they are culture; and they are not compatible with the cell-culture standard, the Petri dish, which makes it hard for the industry to adopt it.
The new approach explored by Polytechnique and McGill University researchers is based on microfluidic multipoles (MFMs), a system of simultaneous fluid suction and aspiration through opposing micro-openings on a very small surface placed in a confined space that is less than 0.1 mm thick. "When they come into contact with one another, these jets of fluid form patterns that can be seen by dyeing them with chemical reagents," says Professor Gervais. "We wanted to understand these patterns while developing a reliable method for modelling MFMs."
Patterns - Professor - Gervais - Team - Model
To understand these patterns, Professor Gervais's team had to develop a new mathematical model for open multipolar flows. This model is...
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