October 13, 2008: Microfluidics company Dolomite is collaborating with Japan’s Nano Fusion Technologies (NFT) to apply electro-osmotic micropump technology for use in microfluidic applications. This collaboration will enable the development of very small scale pumping systems for use in drug delivery, drug discovery, point of care systems, and a broad range of biotech applications.
Microfluidics, a.k.a. ‘lab on a chip’, is a new field of science and engineering that enables very small-scale fluid control and analysis, allowing instrument manufacturers to develop smaller, more cost-effective and more powerful systems. With lab-on-a-chip technology, entire complex chemical management and analysis systems are created in a microfluidic chip and interfaced with, for example, electronic and optical detection systems.
“The considerable benefits of microfluidic chips are now widely understood but the challenge remains in how we integrate them into complete systems,” said Gillian Davis, regional sales manager for Dolomite. NFT’s micropump technology “has a very small footprint and no moving parts, so is ideal for handheld and portable systems. In addition to this, it offers a smooth flow, precise control and is capable of very low delivery volumes, making it ideal for clinical diagnostics, drug delivery and drug discovery applications.”
The micropump is operated by applying a DC voltage and can also be controlled using a PWM (pulse width modulated) signal to deliver variable flow rates for specific delivery requirements. The Dolomite/NFT solution also uses a specially developed porous material within the pump that enables the device to deliver at pressures of more than 100 kPa.
“The fact that this is a device intended for mounting on a PCB really does indicate the direction in which microfluidics is heading,” said Gillian. “It’s increasingly where chemistry meets electronics, and it’s opening up a whole new generation of possibilities in instrument design. We are seeing enormous interest in our work, from all around the world. Microfluidics is very much an emerging technology that is now being adopted by scientists and engineers working on commercial projects.”