The Challenges of Applying Microfluidics Towards Biomedical Applications
Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems (MEMS) technology enables us to design and fabricate miniature sensors and actuators which can be used to directly manipulate microscale subjects. Many recently developed transducers further extend the range of applications to nano scales. With these micro/nano modalities, we can interrogate and manipulate cells and bio-molecules with unprecedented capabilities.
Moving, stopping, mixing and separation of fluids and particle are the basic processes in medical diagnoses and drug developments. For those applications, macro complex molecules commonly found in the bio-fluid flow present many challenges which do not exist in simple fluid flows. In micro scale flow channels or reactors, the interactions of these macro molecules with the solid boundary make micro/nano fluidics an extremely rich research field.
In bio-medical applications, target collection, sample preparation and bio-marker detection involve flows from the macro to nano scales. The length scales change in several orders of magnitude such that the nature of the dominating force field will not be the same through the entire flow range. Handling the multi-scale problem with different governing forces is not commonly encountered in traditional fluid dynamics.