Microfluidics and Nanofluidics

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 179–191 | Cite as

Optimal design of microfluidic networks using biologically inspired principles

  • Robert W. Barber
  • David R. Emerson
Research Paper


From the earliest of times, Man has sought to replicate ideas that have evolved naturally in plants and animals. Understanding and extracting these “natural” design strategies has opened up a whole new field of research known as biomimetics. Designs formulated using biologically inspired principles range from novel surface treatments that mimic physiological processes to geometrical optimization for improving the performance of a system. In this paper, we will show how biomimetic principles based on the laws that govern biological vascular trees can be used to design artificial microfluidic distribution systems. The study focuses specifically on microfluidic manifolds composed of constant-depth rectangular- or trapezoidal-sectioned channels, as these geometries can readily be fabricated using standard micro-fabrication techniques. We will show that it is possible to introduce a prescribed element of flow control into the system by carefully selecting the branching parameter that governs the change in channel dimension at each bifurcation.


Biomimetic Murray’s law Vascular Manifold Lab-on-a-chip 



The authors would like to acknowledge partial support from the Framework VI PATENT DfMM Network of Excellence (Contract no. 507255). Additional support was provided by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) under the auspices of Collaborative Computational Project 12 (CCP12). The authors would also like to thank Professor Krzysztof Cieślicki of Warsaw University of Technology for the many useful discussions on Murray’s law.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Microfluidics and Microsystems ModellingCCLRC Daresbury LaboratoryWarringtonUK

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