Microstructured fluidic devices are poised to dramatically change
how we design and construct many fluid-handling systems.
Their capabilities are beginning to affect the design of
analytical instruments, chemical production processes, pharmaceutical
development, and chemical research among many other areas.
Creating microstructured components has two main consequences:
This is useful for both miniaturization (making things smaller) and for
performance (making things better/faster) even in large-scale,
high throughput applications.
Surface area to volume ratios can be thousands of times greater in
microstructured systems than in batch systems. This promotes more
precise and efficient thermal management, controlled residence
times, and many other effects.
Advantages apply on many different levels for various applications:
- reducing system size and sample volumes, and
- greater control over chemical and thermal processes.
Analytical instruments can be designed with a "lab-on-a-chip" approach
that integrates fluild handling and sensing in small packages. This enables
miniaturation and portability, but can also improve performance and sensitivity.
Microfluidics can reduce the size of benchtop devices so you can carry the lab
into the field, rather than sending samples back to a lab. This enables improved
testing processes and makes it easier to operate in remote locations. For example,
in-field testing can help zero-in on pollution sources at the time they are
sampled, rather than trying to relocate the problems after processing in a lab.
- process intensification
- greater selectivity
- uniform temperature control
- lower energy costs
- less byproduct production
- enables novel process chemistries
- greater material utilization
- faster startup times
- higher levels of integration
- on-site, on-demand processing
For screening catalysts or chemical compounds, microfluidic systems are
already greatly increasing the efficiency of discovery and process
optimization. Multiple reactions can be performed and monitored in parallel
on fluidic devices.
Rather than processing chemicals in bulk, microchannel systems
convey fluids through a controlled structure where heat,
residence times, and mixing are more precisely controlled.
One result is process intensification as the process becomes faster
and the equipment becomes smaller. Another is that processes that
would be difficult to control in batch due to fast reaction times,
unstable intermediates, highly exothermic behavior, or operation
in an explosive regime can now be efficiently and safely carried
out in microstructured reactors.
Specific applications where microstructured devices are being considered include:
Microchemical Reactor, a "lab on a chip", containing two
input ports, a pressure-circulated mixing area, buffer section, reactor area
(on the left), serpentine cooling section, and output buffer and connection,
all in a single-piece hermetically sealed package. The alumina ceramic
device is inert to most chemicals and is strong and durable.
The package size is 32x16x2.4 mm.
- micro heat exchangers
- fuel cells
- hydrogen generation
- cracking of petrochemicals
- gas-to-liquid conversions of methane
Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals
- processing of peroxides
- on-demand manufacture of perishable chemicals
Microfluidic Device Fabrication
CAM-LEM's manufacturing processes enable the creation of high-performance
microfluidic devices made from ceramic or metal. These provide much better
chemical resistance and strength than plastic or silicon, better
strength than glass, and high temperature resistance. We have created
parts with features from 50 microns to 350 millimeters (0.002 to 14 inches),
samples tested to pressures over 75 MPa (10,000 psi), and complex, multilevel
structures for high-temperature mixing and reactions.
Parts can be produced economically in high volumes. We also offer rapid
prototyping of ceramic microfluidic devices to help you rapidly develop
and test your designs.
- microanalytical sensors and systems
- microfluidic packaging for MEMS devices
- miniature or multi-fluid nozzles
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Examples of CAM-LEM microfluidic devices.
Last modified 2005 September 27 email@example.com