, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 647-659
Date: 10 Apr 2013

Software-programmable continuous-flow multi-purpose lab-on-a-chip

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Abstract

Current lab-on-a-chip (LoC) devices are assay-specific and are custom-built for each single experiment. Performing an experiment requires scientists or engineers to go through the time-consuming process of designing, fabricating, and testing a chip before conducting the actual experiment. This prolonged cycle can take months to complete, increasing effort and cost and reducing productivity. Similarly, minor modifications to an assay protocol re-incur the overheads of the design cycle. In this paper, we develop a multi-purpose, software-programmable Lab-on-a-Chip (SPLoC), where the user simply writes or downloads a program for each experiment. We describe the components necessary to realize the SPLoC, which include a high-level programming language, an abstract instruction set, a runtime and control system, and a microfluidic device. We describe two key features of our high-level language compiler, and describe a novel variable-volume variable-ratio mixer. Finally, we demonstrate our SPLoC on four diverse, real-world assays.