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

SearchCompliance

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • phishing

    Phishing is a form of fraud in which an attacker masquerades as a reputable entity or person in email or other communication ...

  • vulnerability disclosure

    Vulnerability disclosure is the practice of publishing information about a computer security problem, and a type of policy that ...

  • incident response

    Incident response is an organized approach to addressing and managing the aftermath of a security breach or cyberattack, also ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

  • flash memory

    Flash memory, also known as flash storage, is a type of nonvolatile memory that erases data in units called blocks.

  • NAND flash memory

    NAND flash memory is a type of nonvolatile storage technology that does not require power to retain data.

  • NOR flash memory

    NOR flash memory is one of two types of nonvolatile storage technologies.

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close