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

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.

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Acknowledgments

This work is based in part upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant Numbers CCF-0726821 and CCF-0726694. This work was also supported in part by the Purdue Research Foundation (PRF). Work at Microfluidic Innovations was supported by NSF Award IIP-1013625 and NIH grant 1R43EB012392-01. The authors would also like to thank the staff of the Birck Nanotechnology Center.

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Correspondence to Ahmed M. Amin.

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Amin, A.M., Thakur, R., Madren, S. et al. Software-programmable continuous-flow multi-purpose lab-on-a-chip. Microfluid Nanofluid 15, 647–659 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10404-013-1180-2

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Keywords

  • PDMS
  • Microfluidic Chip
  • Input Stream
  • Runtime System
  • Swarmer Cell