Microfluidics has been incorporated into individual fibers, allowing researchers to process much larger fluid volumes in more complex ways. In some ways, the advancement ushers in a new “macro” era of microfluidics. Chemical or biomedical testing and research could benefit from the technology.
They got around this by embedding microfluidic channels inside fibers. The fibers can be made as long as needed to accommodate higher throughput, providing excellent control and flexibility over the channel shapes and dimensions.
These devices present challenges due to their overall size, channel profiles, and difficulty incorporating additional materials such as electrodes.
Silicon chip technology excels at producing rectangular profiles, but anything beyond that necessitates highly specialized techniques. They can form triangles, but only with certain angles. The team’s new fiber-based method allows for the implementation of various cross-sectional shapes for the channels, such as star, cross, or bowtie shapes, which may be useful for specific applications such as automatically sorting different types of cells in a biological sample.
Furthermore, elements such as sensing or heating wires, or piezoelectric devices to induce vibrations in the sampled fluids, must be added at a later processing stage in conventional microfluidics. They can, however, be fully integrated into the channels of the new fiber-based system.