Photonics Dictionary


Microfluidics is a multidisciplinary field that involves the manipulation and control of very small fluid volumes, typically in the microliter (10-6 liters) to picoliter (10-12 liters) range, within channels or devices with dimensions on the microscale. It integrates principles from physics, chemistry, engineering, and biotechnology to design and fabricate systems that handle and analyze fluids at the micro level.

Key features and aspects of microfluidics include:

Miniaturization: Microfluidic devices are characterized by their small size, enabling precise control over fluid flow, mixing, and reactions. The reduced dimensions lead to faster reactions, improved sensitivity, and reduced reagent consumption.

Channels and structures: Microfluidic devices consist of microchannels and other microstructures fabricated on a substrate, often made of materials like glass, silicon, or polymers. These structures guide and manipulate the flow of fluids.


Biomedical analysis: Microfluidics is widely used in biomedical research and diagnostics for tasks such as blood analysis, DNA sequencing, and cell sorting.

Chemical synthesis: It is employed in chemical synthesis, enabling the controlled mixing and reaction of small volumes of reagents.

Point-of-care testing: Microfluidic devices are designed for on-site and rapid diagnostic applications, allowing for quick analysis in resource-limited settings.

Environmental monitoring: Microfluidics can be used for monitoring environmental parameters and detecting contaminants in water or air.

Lab-on-a-chip: Microfluidic systems are often referred to as "lab-on-a-chip" because they integrate multiple laboratory functions onto a single chip. This miniaturization enables portability and automation.

Fluid control: Microfluidic devices use various methods for fluid control, including pressure-driven flow, electrokinetic methods (such as electrophoresis), and capillary action.

Mixing and reaction: Microfluidics allows for precise control of mixing and reaction kinetics, facilitating the study of chemical reactions and biological processes at the microscale.


Reduced reagent consumption: Microfluidics minimizes the amount of reagents needed for experiments, reducing costs.

High throughput: Despite small volumes, microfluidic devices can achieve high-throughput analyses due to parallelization of processes.

Integration: Multiple steps of an analysis or experiment can be integrated into a single microfluidic device.

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