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What is a microfluidic chip?

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Microfluidic chips are devices used in studies in which micro-channels have been molded or patterned. The channels forming the chip are connected together to allow fluids to pass through different channels, going from one place to another. This network is connected to the outside environment through inlet and outlet ports. The liquids (or gases) are injected, managed, and/or removed from the chip passively or actively (pressure controller, syringe pumps, or peristaltic pumps). The channels may have different inner diameters, typically ranging from 5 to 500 µm, but today structures can be fabricated with sub-micrometer precision. The channel network must be specifically designed for the desired application and analysis (cell culture, organ-on-a-chip, DNA analysis, lab-on-a-chip, microfluidic droplets, etc.).

A bit of history

Miniaturization techniques have been continuously shaping the microelectronics technology and its ability to produce devices for a broad range of applications. Downscaling the dimensions of transistors have been pursued in the industry to fulfill the demand for smaller, faster and energy-efficient systems1. In the late 1960s, a new field named microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) emerged. This laid the foundations for the miniaturization of mechanical systems, with the development of micromachining technology based on silicon semiconductor technology. That is when engineers began realizing that silicon chips could process things such as chemicals, motion, and light. The first implementation of inkjet printer heads demonstrated that micron sized droplets could be generated using piezoelectric or thermal effects. In the 1990, Manz et al. introduced the concept of miniaturized total chemical analysis systems (μTAS)2. Soon after, companies were founded to utilize these systems for life science applications. Rapid prototyping and replication of polymers (such as PDMS) as an alternative to silicon processing, accelerated academic research and new terminologies such as “microfluidics” and “lab-on-a-chip” (LOC) emerged.

Today, a wide range of materials are available to produce microfluidic chips, and LOC devices have demonstrated their benefits in applications such as in droplet microfluidics and organ-on-a-chip. More recently, new chip designs make it possible to interact with the external environment (“open-space” microfluidics), and the development of Drop-seq technology enables biologists to analyze RNA expression genome-wide in thousands of individual cells at once. Today, efforts are put towards the production of end-user devices and scalable products.

Chip manufacturers

Beonchip S. L. was founded in 2016 at the University of Zaragoza by Ignacio Ochoa (specialist and PhD in biology), Luis Fernández (PhD in microtechnology) and Rosa Monge (PhD in mechanical Engineering).

Therefore, Beonchip have multidisciplinarity in its roots, and their team is proof of that. The collaboration of engineers and biologists has been key to design the most user friendly and accessible organ on chip devices that are true to the physiological environment of the body.

 

FlowJEM technology was developed for research and development projects by microfluidic researchers and engineers like you.

​Microfluidic devices fabricated by FlowJEM have a broad range of applications, including but not limited to chemistry, materials science and technology, nanoscience, pharmaceutical science, biology, bioengineering and medicine.

FlowJEM’s goal is to meet the demands for high quality, fast turnaround time and low cost. Work with us to develop your ideas into prototypes or transition your prototypes to volume production.

 

Secoya Technologies develops innovative production technologies and equipment by a smart use of intensified operational units. It results in stable and reliable processes – at any scale – producing high quality (bio-)pharmaceutical products

Using cutting-edge technologies as sub-micrometric 3D printing and micro-electro-erosion, SECOYA has developed a unique device that is able to continuously produce micro-sized droplets at a very high frequency (kHz) and with a very narrow size distribution (high monodispersity). Its use for encapsulation of active ingredients and multiple emulsions has been demonstrated.

microfluidic ChipShop offers a wide off-the-shelf selection of microfluidic chips from thermoplastic polymers and the complementary accessories. They furthermore support customized prototyping as well as volume production services – from one to millions of chips, from simple microfluidic devices to complex lab-on-a-chip-systems.

Bi/ond empowers biological innovation by engineering microchips which nourish, stimulate and monitor your cells. Bi/ond’s Organ-on-Chips are compatible with a wide variety of complex 3D tissues (organoids, patient-derived samples, cell monolayers) and they have been qualified in multiple applications such as Brain-on-Chip, Heart-on-Chip and Cancer-on-Chip. When you buy one of our OOC, you are not only purchasing a product, you are adding an engineer to your team. Bi/ond’ team will help and support you to set up your model with our extensive knowledge of microfabrication, simulations and biology.

Micronit is the leading innovator and global partner in design, development and manufacturing of customer specific lab-on-a- chip solutions for life science and health applications.

With over 20 years of experience, a highly qualified team, state-of-the-art technologies and certified manufacturing facilities, we deliver innovative and competitive products to our customers for life science research towards personal health applications.

REFERENCES

  1. Temiz, Y., Lovchik, R. D., Kaigala, G. V. & Delamarche, E. Lab-on-a-chip devices: How to close and plug the lab? Microelectron. Eng. 132, 156–175 (2015).
  2. A. MANZ, N. G. and H. M. W. Miniaturized Total Chemical Analysis Systems: a Novel Concept for Chemical Sensing. Sensors and Actuators 17, 620–624 (1990).

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