|Image by TINGRUI PAN/UC Davis|
People use USB flash drives for an untold number of reasons, but one of the most important reasons is that these small electronic devices make it easier to carry data from point A to point B. But what if the data are fluids? Well, that's where researchers at UC Davis enter.
Biomedical engineers at the university have created a Fit-to-Flow (F2F) fluid connector. This tool, which they compare to the USB interface, enables microfluids to be connected to electronic devices for testing. It uses tiny channels—i.e., only a few micrometers across—that are cut into a plastic membrane. The chip is described in detail in the latest edition of the journal Lab on a Chip, and a provisional patent for the technology was filed November 1.
"We think there is a huge need for an interface to bridge microfluidics to electronic devices," says paper coauthor Tingrui Pan, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at UC Davis. Pan and a graduate student, Arnold Chen, developed the chip and wrote the article.
Pan says that in most cases, the new device can be integrated with a standard peripheral component interconnect (PCI) device. An embedded micropump can provide the power. —Lawrence Lloyd