Browse Definitions:
Definition

microfluidics

Microfluidics is the science of designing, manufacturing, and formulating devices and processes that deal with volumes of fluid on the order of nanoliters (symbolized nl and representing units of 10 -9 liter) or picoliters (symbolized pl and representing units of 10 -12 liter). The devices themselves have dimensions ranging from millimeters (mm) down to micrometers (?m), where 1 ?m = 0.001 mm.

Microfluidics hardware requires construction and design that differs from macroscale hardware. It is not generally possible to scale conventional devices down and then expect them to work in microfluidics applications. When the dimensions of a device or system reach a certain size as the scale becomes smaller, the particles of fluid, or particles suspended in the fluid, become comparable in size with the apparatus itself. This dramatically alters system behavior. Capillary action changes the way in which fluids pass through microscale-diameter tubes, as compared with macroscale channels. In addition, there are unknown factors involved, especially concerning microscale heat transfer and mass transfer, the nature of which only further research can reveal.

The volumes involved in microfluidics can be understood by visualizing the size of a one-liter container, and then imagining cubical fractions of this container. A liter is slightly more than one U.S. fluid quart. A cube measuring 100 mm (a little less than four inches) on an edge has a volume of one liter. Imagine a tiny cube whose height, width, and depth are 1/1000 (0.001) of this size, or 0.1 mm. This is the size of a small grain of table sugar; it would take a strong magnifying glass to resolve it into a recognizable cube. That cube would occupy 1 nl. A volume of 1 pl is represented by a cube whose height, width, and depth are 1/10 (0.1) that of a 1-nl cube. It would take a powerful microscope to resolve that.

Microfluidic systems have diverse and widespread potential applications. Some examples of systems and processes that might employ this technology include inkjet printers, blood-cell-separation equipment, biochemical assays, chemical synthesis, genetic analysis, drug screening, electrochromatography, surface micromachining, laser ablation, and mechanical micromilling. Not surprisingly, the medical industry has shown keen interest in microfluidics technology.

Also see nanotechnology .

This was last updated in September 2005

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board)

    The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) is a Congressionally-established nonprofit that assesses audits of public ...

  • cyborg anthropologist

    A cyborg anthropologist is an individual who studies the interaction between humans and technology, observing how technology can ...

  • RegTech

    RegTech, or regulatory technology, is a term used to describe technology that is used to help streamline the process of ...

SearchSecurity

  • email spam

    Email spam, or junk email, is unsolicited bulk messages sent through email with commercial, fraudulent or malicious intent.

  • distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack

    A distributed denial-of-service attack occurs when an attack originates from multiple computers or devices, usually from multiple...

  • application whitelisting

    Application whitelisting is the practice of identifying applications that have been deemed safe for execution and restricting all...

SearchHealthIT

  • athenahealth Inc.

    Based in Watertown, Mass., athenahealth Inc. is a leading vendor of cloud-based EHRs for small to medium-sized physician ...

  • Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare)

    The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is legislation passed in 2010 that changed how uninsured Americans enroll in and receive healthcare...

  • HIPAA Privacy Rule

    The Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information, commonly known as the HIPAA Privacy Rule, establishes ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)

    One approach to a strong disaster recovery plan is DRaaS, where companies offload data replication and restoration ...

  • data recovery

    Data recovery restores data that has been lost, accidentally deleted, corrupted or made inaccessible. Learn how data recovery ...

  • disaster recovery plan (DRP)

    A company's disaster recovery policy is enhanced with a documented DR plan that formulates strategies, and outlines preparation ...

SearchStorage

  • yottabyte (YB)

    A yottabyte is a measure of theoretical storage capacity and is 2 to the 80th power bytes, or, in decimal, approximately 1,000 ...

  • Kilo, mega, giga, tera, peta, exa, zetta and all that

    Kilo, mega, giga, tera, peta, exa, zetta are among the list of prefixes used to denote the quantity of something, such as a byte ...

  • brontobyte

    A brontobyte is a measure of memory or data storage that is equal to 10 to the 27th power of bytes.

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • SSD caching

    SSD caching, also known as flash caching, is the temporary storage of data on NAND flash memory chips in a solid-state drive so ...

  • NVDIMM (Non-Volatile Dual In-line Memory Module)

    An NVDIMM (non-volatile dual in-line memory module) is hybrid computer memory that retains data during a service outage.

  • NAND mirroring

    NAND mirroring has been proposed to break the security in certain portable devices that use NAND flash memory for encryption.

SearchCloudStorage

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

  • Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

    Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close