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Micromachines, Volume 8, Issue 8 (August 2017)

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Cover Story Digital PCR, by counting molecular genetic scripts in partitioned reactions, is known for its [...] Read more.
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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Editorial for the Special Issue on the Insights and Advancements in Microfluidics
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 254; doi:10.3390/mi8080254
Received: 15 August 2017 / Revised: 15 August 2017 / Accepted: 15 August 2017 / Published: 17 August 2017
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Abstract
We present a total of 19 articles in this special issue of Micromachines entitled, ”Insights and Advancements in Microfluidics.”[...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insights and Advancements in Microfluidics)

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review, Other

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle A Droplet Microfluidics Based Platform for Mining Metagenomic Libraries for Natural Compounds
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 230; doi:10.3390/mi8080230
Received: 9 June 2017 / Revised: 14 July 2017 / Accepted: 19 July 2017 / Published: 25 July 2017
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Abstract
Historically, microbes from the environment have been a reliable source for novel bio-active compounds. Cloning and expression of metagenomic DNA in heterologous strains of bacteria has broadened the range of potential compounds accessible. However, such metagenomic libraries have been under-exploited for applications in
[...] Read more.
Historically, microbes from the environment have been a reliable source for novel bio-active compounds. Cloning and expression of metagenomic DNA in heterologous strains of bacteria has broadened the range of potential compounds accessible. However, such metagenomic libraries have been under-exploited for applications in mammalian cells because of a lack of integrated methods. We present an innovative platform to systematically mine natural resources for pro-apoptotic compounds that relies on the combination of bacterial delivery and droplet microfluidics. Using the violacein operon from C. violaceum as a model, we demonstrate that E. coli modified to be invasive can serve as an efficient delivery vehicle of natural compounds. This approach permits the seamless screening of metagenomic libraries with mammalian cell assays and alleviates the need for laborious extraction of natural compounds. In addition, we leverage the unique properties of droplet microfluidics to amplify bacterial clones and perform clonal screening at high-throughput in place of one-compound-per-well assays in multi-well format. We also use droplet microfluidics to establish a cell aggregate strategy that overcomes the issue of background apoptosis. Altogether, this work forms the foundation of a versatile platform to efficiently mine the metagenome for compounds with therapeutic potential. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Enabling Microfluidic Technologies for Single Cell Analysis)
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Open AccessArticle Interfacial Electric Effects on a Non-Isothermal Electroosmotic Flow in a Microcapillary Tube Filled by Two Immiscible Fluids
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 232; doi:10.3390/mi8080232
Received: 19 June 2017 / Revised: 18 July 2017 / Accepted: 25 July 2017 / Published: 27 July 2017
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Abstract
In this work, a non-isothermal electroosmotic flow of two immiscible fluids within a uniform microcapillary is theoretically studied. It is considered that there is an annular layer of a non-Newtonian liquid, whose behavior follows the power-law model, adjacent to the inside wall of
[...] Read more.
In this work, a non-isothermal electroosmotic flow of two immiscible fluids within a uniform microcapillary is theoretically studied. It is considered that there is an annular layer of a non-Newtonian liquid, whose behavior follows the power-law model, adjacent to the inside wall of the capillary, which in turn surrounds an inner flow of a second conducting liquid that is driven by electroosmosis. The inner fluid flow exerts an interfacial force, dragging the annular fluid due to shear and Maxwell stresses at the interface between the two fluids. Because the Joule heating effect may be present in electroosmotic flow (EOF), temperature gradients can appear along the microcapillary, making the viscosity coefficients of both fluids and the electrical conductivity of the inner fluid temperature dependent. The above makes the variables of the flow field in both fluids, velocity, pressure, temperature and electric fields, coupled. An additional complexity of the mathematical model that describes the electroosmotic flow is the nonlinear character due to the rheological behavior of the surrounding fluid. Therefore, based on the lubrication theory approximation, the governing equations are nondimensionalized and simplified, and an asymptotic solution is determined using a regular perturbation technique by considering that the perturbation parameter is associated with changes in the viscosity by temperature effects. The principal results showed that the parameters that notably influence the flow field are the power-law index, an electrokinetic parameter (the ratio between the radius of the microchannel and the Debye length) and the competition between the consistency index of the non-Newtonian fluid and the viscosity of the conducting fluid. Additionally, the heat that is dissipated trough the external surface of the microchannel and the sensitivity of the viscosity to temperature changes play important roles, which modify the flow field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Nano-Chip Electrokinetics, Volume II)
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Open AccessArticle Operation of a MOEMS Deformable Mirror in Cryo: Challenges and Results
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 233; doi:10.3390/mi8080233
Received: 24 May 2017 / Revised: 5 July 2017 / Accepted: 14 July 2017 / Published: 27 July 2017
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Abstract
Micro-opto-electro-mechanical systems (MOEMS) Deformable Mirrors (DM) are key components for next generation optical instruments implementing innovative adaptive optics systems, both in existing telescopes and in the future ELTs. Characterizing these components well is critical for next generation instruments. This is done by interferometry,
[...] Read more.
Micro-opto-electro-mechanical systems (MOEMS) Deformable Mirrors (DM) are key components for next generation optical instruments implementing innovative adaptive optics systems, both in existing telescopes and in the future ELTs. Characterizing these components well is critical for next generation instruments. This is done by interferometry, including surface quality measurement in static and dynamical modes, at ambient and in vacuum/cryo. We use a compact cryo-vacuum chamber designed for reaching 10–6 mbar and 160 K in front of our custom Michelson interferometer, which is able to measure performance of the DM at actuator/segment level and at the entire mirror level, with a lateral resolution of 2 µm and a sub-nanometer z-resolution. We tested the PTT 111 DM from Iris AO: an array of single crystalline silicon hexagonal mirrors with a pitch of 606 µm, able to move in tip, tilt, and piston (stroke 5–7 µm, tilt ±5 mrad). The device could be operated successfully from ambient to 160 K. An additional, mainly focus-like, 500 nm deformation of the entire mirror is measured at 160 K; we were able to recover the best flat in cryo by correcting the focus and local tip-tilts on all segments, reaching 12 nm rms. Finally, the goal of these studies is to test DMs in cryo and vacuum conditions as well as to improve their architecture for stable operation in harsh environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue MEMS Mirrors)
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Open AccessArticle Design of High-Reliability Micro Safety and Arming Devices for a Small Caliber Projectile
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 234; doi:10.3390/mi8080234
Received: 6 June 2017 / Revised: 19 July 2017 / Accepted: 20 July 2017 / Published: 28 July 2017
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Abstract
With the development of micro technology, the fuse for small-caliber projectiles tends to be miniaturized and intelligent, the traditional fuse no longer meets the requirements. In this paper, we demonstrate a micro safety and arming (S & A) device with small volume and
[...] Read more.
With the development of micro technology, the fuse for small-caliber projectiles tends to be miniaturized and intelligent, the traditional fuse no longer meets the requirements. In this paper, we demonstrate a micro safety and arming (S & A) device with small volume and high reliability in small caliber projectile platforms. The working principle of S & A devices is that a centrifugal insurance mechanism could deform under a centrifugal load and thus cause fuse safety arming. The centrifugal insurance mechanism is designed theoretically, verified by simulation and experimental methods. The experimental results show that, when the rotary speed is over 36,000 rpm, the fuse was armed safely. In addition, the experimental, simulation, and theoretical results are basically consistent, and indicate that the centrifugal insurance mechanism meets the expected criteria. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Numerical Investigation of Miniature Ejector Refrigeration System Embedded with a Capillary Pump Loop
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 235; doi:10.3390/mi8080235
Received: 4 June 2017 / Revised: 9 July 2017 / Accepted: 25 July 2017 / Published: 28 July 2017
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Abstract
A miniature steam ejector refrigeration system embedded with a capillary pump loop can result in a compact design which can be used for electronics cooling. In this paper, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is employed to investigate the effects of the area ratio of
[...] Read more.
A miniature steam ejector refrigeration system embedded with a capillary pump loop can result in a compact design which can be used for electronics cooling. In this paper, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is employed to investigate the effects of the area ratio of the ejector constant-area mixing section to the nozzle throat, the length of the constant-area section, and the nozzle exit position (NXP), on the performance of a miniature steam ejector. Results show that the performance of the miniature steam ejector is very sensitive to the area ratio of the constant-area mixing section to the nozzle. For the needs of practical application, the area ratio of the constant-area mixing section to the nozzle should be smaller than 16 when the temperature of the primary flow is 60 °C. The NXP plays an important role in the flow phenomena inside the miniature ejector. The critical back pressure is more sensitive to length of the constant-area mixing section than the entrainment ratio. Results of this investigation provided a good solution to the miniature steam ejector embedded with a capillary pump loop for electronics cooling application. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Three-Dimensional Finite Element Method Simulation of Perforated Graphene Nano-Electro-Mechanical (NEM) Switches
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 236; doi:10.3390/mi8080236
Received: 21 June 2017 / Revised: 24 July 2017 / Accepted: 25 July 2017 / Published: 31 July 2017
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Abstract
The miniaturization trend leads to the development of a graphene based nanoelectromechanical (NEM) switch to fulfill the high demand in low power device applications. In this article, we highlight the finite element (FEM) simulation of the graphene-based NEM switches of fixed-fixed ends design
[...] Read more.
The miniaturization trend leads to the development of a graphene based nanoelectromechanical (NEM) switch to fulfill the high demand in low power device applications. In this article, we highlight the finite element (FEM) simulation of the graphene-based NEM switches of fixed-fixed ends design with beam structures which are perforated and intact. Pull-in and pull-out characteristics are analyzed by using the FEM approach provided by IntelliSuite software, version 8.8.5.1. The FEM results are consistent with the published experimental data. This analysis shows the possibility of achieving a low pull-in voltage that is below 2 V for a ratio below 15:0.03:0.7 value for the graphene beam length, thickness, and air gap thickness, respectively. The introduction of perforation in the graphene beam-based NEM switch further achieved the pull-in voltage as low as 1.5 V for a 250 nm hole length, 100 nm distance between each hole, and 12-number of hole column. Then, a von Mises stress analysis is conducted to investigate the mechanical stability of the intact and perforated graphene-based NEM switch. This analysis shows that a longer and thinner graphene beam reduced the von Mises stress. The introduction of perforation concept further reduced the von Mises stress at the graphene beam end and the beam center by approximately ~20–35% and ~10–20%, respectively. These theoretical results, performed by FEM simulation, are expected to expedite improvements in the working parameter and dimension for low voltage and better mechanical stability operation of graphene-based NEM switch device fabrication. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Carbon Based Materials for MEMS/NEMS)
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Open AccessArticle 3D Printing of Artificial Blood Vessel: Study on Multi-Parameter Optimization Design for Vascular Molding Effect in Alginate and Gelatin
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 237; doi:10.3390/mi8080237
Received: 30 June 2017 / Revised: 29 July 2017 / Accepted: 29 July 2017 / Published: 31 July 2017
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Abstract
3D printing has emerged as one of the modern tissue engineering techniques that could potentially form scaffolds (with or without cells), which is useful in treating cardiovascular diseases. This technology has attracted extensive attention due to its possibility of curing disease in tissue
[...] Read more.
3D printing has emerged as one of the modern tissue engineering techniques that could potentially form scaffolds (with or without cells), which is useful in treating cardiovascular diseases. This technology has attracted extensive attention due to its possibility of curing disease in tissue engineering and organ regeneration. In this paper, we have developed a novel rotary forming device, prepared an alginate–gelatin solution for the fabrication of vessel-like structures, and further proposed a theoretical model to analyze the parameters of motion synchronization. Using this rotary forming device, we firstly establish a theoretical model to analyze the thickness under the different nozzle extrusion speeds, nozzle speeds, and servo motor speeds. Secondly, the experiments with alginate–gelatin solution are carried out to construct the vessel-like structures under all sorts of conditions. The experiment results show that the thickness cannot be adequately predicted by the theoretical model and the thickness can be controlled by changing the parameters. Finally, the optimized parameters of thickness have been adjusted to estimate the real thickness in 3D printing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Additive Manufacturing for Medical Applications)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Development of Piezo-Driven Compliant Bridge Mechanisms: General Analytical Equations and Optimization of Displacement Amplification
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 238; doi:10.3390/mi8080238
Received: 12 July 2017 / Revised: 27 July 2017 / Accepted: 27 July 2017 / Published: 3 August 2017
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Abstract
Compliant bridge mechanisms are frequently utilized to scale micrometer order motions of piezoelectric actuators to levels suitable for desired applications. Analytical equations have previously been specifically developed for two configurations of bridge mechanisms: parallel and rhombic type. Based on elastic beam theory, a
[...] Read more.
Compliant bridge mechanisms are frequently utilized to scale micrometer order motions of piezoelectric actuators to levels suitable for desired applications. Analytical equations have previously been specifically developed for two configurations of bridge mechanisms: parallel and rhombic type. Based on elastic beam theory, a kinematic analysis of compliant bridge mechanisms in general configurations is presented. General equations of input displacement, output displacement, displacement amplification, input stiffness, output stiffness and stress are presented. Using the established equations, a piezo-driven compliant bridge mechanism has been optimized to maximize displacement amplification. The presented equations were verified using both computational finite element analysis and through experimentation. Finally, comparison with previous studies further validates the versatility and accuracy of the proposed models. The formulations of the new analytical method are simplified and efficient, which help to achieve sufficient estimation and optimization of compliant bridge mechanisms for nano-positioning systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Piezoelectric MEMS)
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Open AccessArticle Assessment of Sub-Micron Particles by Exploiting Charge Differences with Dielectrophoresis
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 239; doi:10.3390/mi8080239
Received: 7 July 2017 / Revised: 30 July 2017 / Accepted: 30 July 2017 / Published: 2 August 2017
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Abstract
The analysis, separation, and enrichment of submicron particles are critical steps in many applications, ranging from bio-sensing to disease diagnostics. Microfluidic electrokinetic techniques, such as dielectrophoresis (DEP) have proved to be excellent platforms for assessment of submicron particles. DEP is the motion of
[...] Read more.
The analysis, separation, and enrichment of submicron particles are critical steps in many applications, ranging from bio-sensing to disease diagnostics. Microfluidic electrokinetic techniques, such as dielectrophoresis (DEP) have proved to be excellent platforms for assessment of submicron particles. DEP is the motion of polarizable particles under the presence of a non-uniform electric field. In this work, the polarization and dielectrophoretic behavior of polystyrene particles with diameters ranging for 100 nm to 1 μm were studied employing microchannels for insulator based DEP (iDEP) and low frequency (<1000 Hz) AC and DC electric potentials. In particular, the effects of particle surface charge, in terms of magnitude and type of functionalization, were examined. It was found that the magnitude of particle surface charge has a significant impact on the polarization and dielectrophoretic response of the particles, allowing for successful particle assessment. Traditionally, charge differences are exploited employing electrophoretic techniques and particle separation is achieved by differential migration. The present study demonstrates that differences in the particle’s surface charge can also be exploited by means of iDEP; and that distinct types of nanoparticles can be identified by their polarization and dielectrophoretic behavior. These findings open the possibility for iDEP to be employed as a technique for the analysis of submicron biological particles, where subtle differences in surface charge could allow for rapid particle identification and separation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dielectrophoresis in Microfluidics)
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Open AccessArticle Scanning Micro-Mirror with an Electrostatic Spring for Compensation of Hard-Spring Nonlinearity
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 240; doi:10.3390/mi8080240
Received: 1 July 2017 / Revised: 29 July 2017 / Accepted: 1 August 2017 / Published: 4 August 2017
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Abstract
A scanning micro-mirror operated at the mechanical resonant frequency often suffer nonlinearity of the torsion-bar spring. The torsion-bar spring becomes harder than the linear spring with the increase of the rotation angle (hard-spring effect). The hard-spring effect of the torsion-bar spring generates several
[...] Read more.
A scanning micro-mirror operated at the mechanical resonant frequency often suffer nonlinearity of the torsion-bar spring. The torsion-bar spring becomes harder than the linear spring with the increase of the rotation angle (hard-spring effect). The hard-spring effect of the torsion-bar spring generates several problems, such as hysteresis, frequency shift, and instability by oscillation jump. In this paper, a scanning micro-mirror with an electrostatic-comb spring is studied for compensation of the hard-spring effect of the torsion-bar spring. The hard-spring effect of the torsion-bar spring is compensated with the equivalent soft-spring effect of the electrostatic-comb spring. The oscillation curve becomes symmetric at the resonant frequency although the resonant frequency increases. Theoretical analysis is given for roughly explaining the compensation. A 0.5 mm square scanning micro-mirror having two kinds of combs, i.e., an actuator comb and a compensation comb, is fabricated from a silicon-on-insulator wafer for testing the compensation of the hard-spring in a vacuum and in atmospheric air. The bending of the oscillation curve is compensated by applying a DC voltage to the electrostatic-comb spring in vacuum and atmosphere. The compensation is attributed by theoretical approach to the soft-spring effect of the electrostatic-comb spring. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue MEMS Mirrors)
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Open AccessArticle Web-Based Remote Control of a Building’s Electrical Power, Green Power Generation and Environmental System Using a Distributive Microcontroller
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 241; doi:10.3390/mi8080241
Received: 29 May 2017 / Revised: 1 August 2017 / Accepted: 2 August 2017 / Published: 4 August 2017
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Abstract
This article proposes a novel, web-based, remote monitoring and control system design for a building’s electrical power, green power generation and environmental system that will save energy. The supervisory control system is based on the use of distributed microcontroller architecture to access programmable
[...] Read more.
This article proposes a novel, web-based, remote monitoring and control system design for a building’s electrical power, green power generation and environmental system that will save energy. The supervisory control system is based on the use of distributed microcontroller architecture to access programmable logic controllers (PLC) and remote input/output devices through the system hardware framework with uniform Ethernet technology. The programmable logic controller (PLC) can access and control devices directly or through RS-232 and RS-485 serial communication. The distributed microcontroller is the control module designated through an open-source firmware, to transform heterogeneous communication to Modbus transmission control protocol (TCP) communication and to achieve the exchange of information between the host and client controller. The proposed supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system is based on the professional software of InduSoft Web Studio and provides a supervisory control design with a friendly human–machine interface. The system can realize real-time data acquisition and storage, control command transmission, system security and power trend analysis. Finally, the proposed SCADA system can be built directly into the hypertext markup language (HTML) and HTML5 and run on the web server, allowing access from a personal computer or smartphone web browser. Our system goals are to greatly reduce system complexity and maintenance costs with a simple Ethernet architecture. The control system can be easily expanded with the same technology culture outside the restrictive one of the large companies. Hence, this system can easily be used in a smart home system to enhance the quality of its inhabitants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Selected Papers from IEEE ICASI 2017)
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Open AccessArticle Characterization of Reagent Pencils for Deposition of Reagents onto Paper-Based Microfluidic Devices
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 242; doi:10.3390/mi8080242
Received: 2 July 2017 / Revised: 29 July 2017 / Accepted: 1 August 2017 / Published: 5 August 2017
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Abstract
Reagent pencils allow for solvent-free deposition of reagents onto paper-based microfluidic devices. The pencils are portable, easy to use, extend the shelf-life of reagents, and offer a platform for customizing diagnostic devices at the point of care. In this work, reagent pencils were
[...] Read more.
Reagent pencils allow for solvent-free deposition of reagents onto paper-based microfluidic devices. The pencils are portable, easy to use, extend the shelf-life of reagents, and offer a platform for customizing diagnostic devices at the point of care. In this work, reagent pencils were characterized by measuring the wear resistance of pencil cores made from polyethylene glycols (PEGs) with different molecular weights and incorporating various concentrations of three different reagents using a standard pin abrasion test, as well as by measuring the efficiency of reagent delivery from the pencils to the test zones of paper-based microfluidic devices using absorption spectroscopy and digital image colorimetry. The molecular weight of the PEG, concentration of the reagent, and the molecular weight of the reagent were all found to have an inverse correlation with the wear of the pencil cores, but the amount of reagent delivered to the test zone of a device correlated most strongly with the concentration of the reagent in the pencil core. Up to 49% of the total reagent deposited on a device with a pencil was released into the test zone, compared to 58% for reagents deposited from a solution. The results suggest that reagent pencils can be prepared for a variety of reagents using PEGs with molecular weights in the range of 2000 to 6000 g/mol. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Paper Microfluidics: Fundamental Studies and Applications)
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Open AccessArticle High Aspect Ratio Nanoimprint Mold-Cavity Filling and Stress Simulation Based on Finite-Element Analysis
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 243; doi:10.3390/mi8080243
Received: 8 July 2017 / Revised: 28 July 2017 / Accepted: 4 August 2017 / Published: 6 August 2017
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Abstract
High aspect ratio three-dimensional micro- and nanopatterns have important applications in diverse fields. However, fabricating these structures by a nanoimprinting method invites problems like collapse, dislocation, and defects. Finite-element analysis (FEA) is a good approach to help understand the filling process and stress
[...] Read more.
High aspect ratio three-dimensional micro- and nanopatterns have important applications in diverse fields. However, fabricating these structures by a nanoimprinting method invites problems like collapse, dislocation, and defects. Finite-element analysis (FEA) is a good approach to help understand the filling process and stress distribution. The FEA method was employed to simulate the nanoimprinting process using positive and negative molds with aspect ratios of 1:1, 3:1, 5:1, and 7:1. During the filling process, the resist adjacent to boundaries has the maximum displacement. The corners of contact areas between the protruding part of the mold and the resist has the maximum Von Mises stress. For both positive and negative molds, the maximum stress in the mold increases with aspect ratio. However, filling up negative molds is more difficult than positive ones. With the same aspect ratio, the maximum stress in a negative mold is approximately twice as large as that in a positive one. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Mechanical Vibration Measurement of Solidly Mounted Resonator in Fluid by Atomic Force Microscopy
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 244; doi:10.3390/mi8080244
Received: 11 July 2017 / Revised: 26 July 2017 / Accepted: 4 August 2017 / Published: 7 August 2017
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Abstract
The very small vibration of a solidly-mounted resonator (SMR) in fluid may trigger a relatively large motion of the covering fluid, which was implied by our protein-related experimental results. Therefore, a series of experimental methods for characterizing the mechanical longitudinal vibration of the
[...] Read more.
The very small vibration of a solidly-mounted resonator (SMR) in fluid may trigger a relatively large motion of the covering fluid, which was implied by our protein-related experimental results. Therefore, a series of experimental methods for characterizing the mechanical longitudinal vibration of the SMR and the corresponding out-of-plane dynamic response of the fluid above the SMR surface is described in this paper. A SMR device with theoretical resonance frequency of 2.5 GHz was driven by an amplitude-modulated (AM) signal, in which the amplitude is modulated by a signal of the second resonance frequency of the atomic force microscope (AFM) cantilever. A lock-in amplifier is used to demodulate the vibration response of the AFM cantilever, which is proportional to the amplitude of the sample vibration in contact mode and tapping mode. The amplitude-frequency curve of the SMR surface is obtained in contact mode with a relatively stronger interaction force between the AFM tip and the SMR surface. The amplitude-frequency curve of the motion of the liquid above the SMR device and the peak amplitude of the fluid at different distances above the SMR surface are measured in tapping mode with a relatively weak interaction force between the AFM tip and the fluid sample. Full article
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Open AccessArticle A Compact 2-DOF Piezoelectric-Driven Platform Based on “Z-Shaped” Flexure Hinges
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 245; doi:10.3390/mi8080245
Received: 19 July 2017 / Revised: 31 July 2017 / Accepted: 4 August 2017 / Published: 9 August 2017
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Abstract
A compact 2-DOF (two degrees of freedom) piezoelectric-driven platform for 3D cellular bio-assembly systems has been proposed based on “Z-shaped” flexure hinges. Multiple linear motions with high resolution both in x and y directions are achieved. The “Z-shaped” flexure hinges and the parallel-six-connecting-rods
[...] Read more.
A compact 2-DOF (two degrees of freedom) piezoelectric-driven platform for 3D cellular bio-assembly systems has been proposed based on “Z-shaped” flexure hinges. Multiple linear motions with high resolution both in x and y directions are achieved. The “Z-shaped” flexure hinges and the parallel-six-connecting-rods structure are utilized to obtain the lowest working stress while compared with other types of flexure hinges. In order to achieve the optimized structure, matrix-based compliance modeling (MCM) method and finite element method (FEM) are used to evaluate both the static and dynamic performances of the proposed 2-DOF piezoelectric-driven platform. Experimental results indicate that the maximum motion displacements for x-stage and y-stage are lx = 17.65 μm and ly = 15.45 μm, respectively. The step response time for x-stage and y-stage are tx = 1.7 ms and ty = 1.6 ms, respectively. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Universal Micromachining Platform and Basic Technologies for the Manufacture and Marking of Microphysiological Systems
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 246; doi:10.3390/mi8080246
Received: 30 May 2017 / Revised: 17 July 2017 / Accepted: 3 August 2017 / Published: 11 August 2017
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Abstract
Micro Physiological Systems (MPS), also known as Multi-Organ-Chip, Organ-on-a-Chip, or Body-on-a-Chip, are advanced microfluidic systems that allow the cultivation of different types of cells and tissue in just one common circuit. Furthermore, they thus can also adjust the interaction of these different tissues.
[...] Read more.
Micro Physiological Systems (MPS), also known as Multi-Organ-Chip, Organ-on-a-Chip, or Body-on-a-Chip, are advanced microfluidic systems that allow the cultivation of different types of cells and tissue in just one common circuit. Furthermore, they thus can also adjust the interaction of these different tissues. Perspectival MPS will replace animal testing. For fast and flexible manufacturing and marking of MPS, a concept for a universal micromachining platform has been developed which provides the following latest key technologies: laser micro cutting of polymer foils, laser micro- and sub-micro-structuring of polymer foils, 3D printing of polymer components as well as optical inspection and online process control. The combination of different laser sources, processing optics, inspection systems, and print heads on multiple axes allows the change and exactly positioning to the workpiece during the process. Therewith, the realization of MPS including 3D printed components as well as direct laser interference patterned surfaces for well-defined cell adhesion and product protection is possible. Additional basic technologies for the generation of periodical line-like structures at polycarbonate foils using special Direct Laser Interference Patterning (DLIP) optics as well as for the 3D printing of fluid-tight cell culture reservoirs made of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene directly onto polycarbonate microfluidics were established. A first prototype of the universal micromachining platform combining different lasers with Direct Laser Writing and DLIP is shown. With this laser micro cutting as well as laser micro-structuring of polycarbonate (PC) foils and therewith functionalization for MPS application could be successfully demonstrated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Additive Manufacturing for Medical Applications)
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Open AccessArticle Optimal Control-Based Inverse Determination of Electrode Distribution for Electroosmotic Micromixer
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 247; doi:10.3390/mi8080247
Received: 11 May 2017 / Revised: 7 August 2017 / Accepted: 7 August 2017 / Published: 11 August 2017
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Abstract
This paper presents an optimal control-based inverse method used to determine the distribution of the electrodes for the electroosmotic micromixers with external driven flow from the inlet. Based on the optimal control method, one Dirichlet boundary control problem is constructed to inversely find
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This paper presents an optimal control-based inverse method used to determine the distribution of the electrodes for the electroosmotic micromixers with external driven flow from the inlet. Based on the optimal control method, one Dirichlet boundary control problem is constructed to inversely find the optimal distribution of the electrodes on the sidewalls of electroosmotic micromixers and achieve the acceptable mixing performance. After solving the boundary control problem, results are also provided to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method; the step-shaped distribution of the external electric potential imposed on the sidewalls is obtained, and the electrodes with an interlaced arrangement are inversely derived according to the obtained external electric potential. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Uncertainty Quantification of Microstructure—Governed Properties of Polysilicon MEMS
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 248; doi:10.3390/mi8080248
Received: 3 July 2017 / Revised: 4 August 2017 / Accepted: 9 August 2017 / Published: 12 August 2017
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Abstract
In this paper, we investigate the stochastic effects of the microstructure of polysilicon films on the overall response of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). A device for on-chip testing has been purposely designed so as to maximize, in compliance with the production process, its sensitivity
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In this paper, we investigate the stochastic effects of the microstructure of polysilicon films on the overall response of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). A device for on-chip testing has been purposely designed so as to maximize, in compliance with the production process, its sensitivity to fluctuations of the microstructural properties; as a side effect, its sensitivity to geometrical imperfections linked to the etching process has also been enhanced. A reduced-order, coupled electromechanical model of the device is developed and an identification procedure, based on a genetic algorithm, is finally adopted to tune the parameters ruling microstructural and geometrical uncertainties. Besides an initial geometrical imperfection that can be considered specimen-dependent due to its scattering, the proposed procedure has allowed identifying an average value of the effective polysilicon Young’s modulus amounting to 140 GPa, and of the over-etch depth with respect to the target geometry layout amounting to O = 0.09 μ m. The procedure has been therefore shown to be able to assess how the studied stochastic effects are linked to the scattering of the measured input–output transfer function of the device under standard working conditions. With a continuous trend in miniaturization induced by the mass production of MEMS, this study can provide information on how to handle the foreseen growth of such scattering. Full article
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Open AccessArticle A Novel On-Chip Impedance Sensor for the Detection of Particle Contamination in Hydraulic Oil
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 249; doi:10.3390/mi8080249
Received: 13 June 2017 / Revised: 25 July 2017 / Accepted: 7 August 2017 / Published: 14 August 2017
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Abstract
A novel impedance sensor based on a microfluidic chip is presented. The sensor consists of two single-layer coils and a straight micro-channel, and can detect, not only ferromagnetic and non-ferromagnetic particles in oil as an inductive sensor, but also, water droplets and air
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A novel impedance sensor based on a microfluidic chip is presented. The sensor consists of two single-layer coils and a straight micro-channel, and can detect, not only ferromagnetic and non-ferromagnetic particles in oil as an inductive sensor, but also, water droplets and air bubbles in oil as a capacitive sensor. The experiments are carried out at different excitation frequencies, number of coil turns and particle sizes. For the inductance detection, the inductance signals are found to increase with the excitation frequency and the noise is constant; both the inductance signals and the noise increase with the number of coil turns, but because the noise increases at a faster rate than the signal, the signal-to-noise ratio decreases with the number of coil turns. We demonstrate the successful detection of 40 μm iron particles and 110 μm copper particles using the coil with 20 turns at the excitation frequency of 2 MHz. For the capacitance detection, capacitance signals decrease with the excitation frequency and the noise is constant; the capacitance signals decrease with the number of coil turns, while the noise increases, thus, the signal-to-noise ratio decreases with the number of coil turns. We can detect 100 μm water droplets and 180 μm bubbles successfully using the coil with 20 turns at the excitation frequency of 0.3 MHz. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Nano-Chip Electrokinetics, Volume II)
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Open AccessArticle Micromachining on and of Transparent Polymers for Patterning Electrodes and Growing Electrically Active Cells for Biosensor Applications
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 250; doi:10.3390/mi8080250
Received: 24 February 2017 / Revised: 28 July 2017 / Accepted: 2 August 2017 / Published: 15 August 2017
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Abstract
We report on microfabrication and assembly process development on transparent, biocompatible polymers for patterning electrodes and growing electrically active cells for in vitro cell-based biosensor applications. Such biosensors are typically fabricated on silicon or glass wafers with traditional microelectronic processes that can be
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We report on microfabrication and assembly process development on transparent, biocompatible polymers for patterning electrodes and growing electrically active cells for in vitro cell-based biosensor applications. Such biosensors are typically fabricated on silicon or glass wafers with traditional microelectronic processes that can be cost-prohibitive without imparting necessary biological traits on the devices, such as transparency and compatibility for the measurement of electrical activity of electrogenic cells and other biological functions. We have developed and optimized several methods that utilize traditional micromachining and non-traditional approaches such as printed circuit board (PCB) processing for fabrication of electrodes and growing cells on the transparent polymers polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). PEN-based biosensors are fabricated utilizing lithography, metal lift-off, electroplating, wire bonding, inkjet printing, conformal polymer deposition and laser micromachining, while PET-based biosensors are fabricated utilizing post-processing technologies on modified PCBs. The PEN-based biosensors demonstrate 85–100% yield of microelectrodes, and 1-kHz impedance of 59.6 kOhms in a manner comparable to other traditional approaches, with excellent biofunctionality established with an ATP assay. Additional process characterization of the microelectrodes depicts expected metal integrity and trace widths and thicknesses. PET-based biosensors are optimized for a membrane bow of 6.9 to 15.75 µm and 92% electrode yield on a large area. Additional qualitative optical assay for biomaterial recognition with transmitted light microscopy and growth of rat cortical cells for 7 days in vitro (DIV) targeted at biological functionalities such as electrophysiology measurements are demonstrated in this paper. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio-Inspired Micro/Nano Devices and Systems)
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Open AccessArticle Cost Index Model for the Process Performance Optimization of Micro-EDM Drilling on Tungsten Carbide
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 251; doi:10.3390/mi8080251
Received: 26 June 2017 / Revised: 12 July 2017 / Accepted: 10 August 2017 / Published: 17 August 2017
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Abstract
The present work deals with the execution of through micro-holes on tungsten carbide plates using a micro-electrical discharge machining (micro-EDM) machine. The experiments were carried out by varying peak current, voltage and frequency in order to achieve suitable technology windows. Tubular electrodes, made
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The present work deals with the execution of through micro-holes on tungsten carbide plates using a micro-electrical discharge machining (micro-EDM) machine. The experiments were carried out by varying peak current, voltage and frequency in order to achieve suitable technology windows. Tubular electrodes, made of two different materials (tungsten carbide and brass), were used. The investigation focuses on the influence of variable process parameters on the process performances and their optimization. The performance indicators taken into account were Material Removal Rate (MRR) and Tool Wear Ratio (TWR). A general model based on a cost index was defined for the process performances optimization and the optimal conditions were identified through the minimization of the objective function. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Optofluidic Lab-on-a-Chip Fluorescence Sensor Using Integrated Buried ARROW (bARROW) Waveguides
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 252; doi:10.3390/mi8080252
Received: 26 July 2017 / Revised: 9 August 2017 / Accepted: 14 August 2017 / Published: 17 August 2017
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Abstract
Optofluidic, lab-on-a-chip fluorescence sensors were fabricated using buried anti-resonant reflecting optical waveguides (bARROWs). The bARROWs are impervious to the negative water absorption effects that typically occur in waveguides made using hygroscopic, plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) oxides. These sensors were used to detect
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Optofluidic, lab-on-a-chip fluorescence sensors were fabricated using buried anti-resonant reflecting optical waveguides (bARROWs). The bARROWs are impervious to the negative water absorption effects that typically occur in waveguides made using hygroscopic, plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) oxides. These sensors were used to detect fluorescent microbeads and had an average signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) that was 81.3% higher than that of single-oxide ARROW fluorescence sensors. While the single-oxide ARROW sensors were annealed at 300 °C to drive moisture out of the waveguides, the bARROW sensors required no annealing process to obtain a high SNR. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photonic MEMS and Optofluidic Devices)
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Open AccessArticle Analytical Formulation of the Electric Field Induced by Electrode Arrays: Towards Automated Dielectrophoretic Cell Sorting
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 253; doi:10.3390/mi8080253
Received: 29 June 2017 / Revised: 7 August 2017 / Accepted: 12 August 2017 / Published: 17 August 2017
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Abstract
Dielectrophoresis is defined as the motion of an electrically polarisable particle in a non-uniform electric field. Current dielectrophoretic devices enabling sorting of cells are mostly controlled in open-loop applying a predefined voltage on micro-electrodes. Closed-loop control of these devices would enable to get
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Dielectrophoresis is defined as the motion of an electrically polarisable particle in a non-uniform electric field. Current dielectrophoretic devices enabling sorting of cells are mostly controlled in open-loop applying a predefined voltage on micro-electrodes. Closed-loop control of these devices would enable to get advanced functionalities and also more robust behavior. Currently, the numerical models of dielectrophoretic force are too complex to be used in real-time closed-loop control. The aim of this paper is to propose a new type of models usable in this framework. We propose an analytical model of the electric field based on Fourier series to compute the dielectrophoretic force produced by parallel electrode arrays. Indeed, this method provides an analytical expression of the electric potential which decouples the geometrical factors (parameter of our system), the voltages applied on electrodes (input of our system), and the position of the cells (output of our system). Considering the Newton laws on each cell, it enables to generate easily a dynamic model of the cell positions (output) function of the voltages on electrodes (input). This dynamic model of our system is required to design the future closed-loop control law. The predicted dielectrophoretic forces are compared to a numerical simulation based on finite element model using COMSOL software. The model presented in this paper enables to compute the dielectrophoretic force applied to a cell by an electrode array in a few tenths of milliseconds. This model could be consequently used in future works for closed-loop control of dielectrophoretic devices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dielectrophoresis in Microfluidics)
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Open AccessArticle An Electromagnetically Actuated Double-Sided Cell-Stretching Device for Mechanobiology Research
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 256; doi:10.3390/mi8080256
Received: 22 July 2017 / Revised: 4 August 2017 / Accepted: 10 August 2017 / Published: 22 August 2017
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Abstract
Cellular response to mechanical stimuli is an integral part of cell homeostasis. The interaction of the extracellular matrix with the mechanical stress plays an important role in cytoskeleton organisation and cell alignment. Insights from the response can be utilised to develop cell culture
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Cellular response to mechanical stimuli is an integral part of cell homeostasis. The interaction of the extracellular matrix with the mechanical stress plays an important role in cytoskeleton organisation and cell alignment. Insights from the response can be utilised to develop cell culture methods that achieve predefined cell patterns, which are critical for tissue remodelling and cell therapy. We report the working principle, design, simulation, and characterisation of a novel electromagnetic cell stretching platform based on the double-sided axial stretching approach. The device is capable of introducing a cyclic and static strain pattern on a cell culture. The platform was tested with fibroblasts. The experimental results are consistent with the previously reported cytoskeleton reorganisation and cell reorientation induced by strain. Our observations suggest that the cell orientation is highly influenced by external mechanical cues. Cells reorganise their cytoskeletons to avoid external strain and to maintain intact extracellular matrix arrangements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomedical Microdevices: Design, Fabrication and Application)
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Open AccessArticle Interactive Micromanipulation of Picking and Placement of Nonconductive Microsphere in Scanning Electron Microscope
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 257; doi:10.3390/mi8080257
Received: 1 May 2017 / Revised: 9 July 2017 / Accepted: 17 August 2017 / Published: 21 August 2017
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Abstract
In this paper, classified theoretical models, consisting of contact with and placement of microsphere and picking operations, are simplified and established to depict the interactive behaviors of external and internal forces in pushing manipulations, respectively. Sliding and/or rolling cases, resulting in the acceleration
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In this paper, classified theoretical models, consisting of contact with and placement of microsphere and picking operations, are simplified and established to depict the interactive behaviors of external and internal forces in pushing manipulations, respectively. Sliding and/or rolling cases, resulting in the acceleration of micromanipulations, are discussed in detail. Effective contact detection is achieved by combining alterations of light-shadow and relative movement displacement between the tip-sphere. Picking operations are investigated by typical interactive positions and different end tilt angles. Placements are realized by adjusting the proper end tilt angles. These were separately conducted to explore the interactive operations of nonconductive glass microspheres in a scanning electron microscope. The experimental results demonstrate that the proposed contact detection method can efficiently protect the end-tip from damage, regardless of operator skills in initial positioning operations. E-beam irradiation onto different interactive positions with end tilt angles can be utilized to pick up microspheres without bending the end-tip. In addition, the results of releasing deviations away from the pre-setting point were utilized to verify the effectiveness of the placement tilt angles. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Study on the Optimum Cutting Parameters of an Aluminum Mold for Effective Bonding Strength of a PDMS Microfluidic Device
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 258; doi:10.3390/mi8080258
Received: 28 May 2017 / Revised: 18 June 2017 / Accepted: 19 June 2017 / Published: 22 August 2017
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Abstract
Master mold fabricated using micro milling is an easy way to develop the polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) based microfluidic device. Achieving high-quality micro-milled surface is important for excellent bonding strength between PDMS and glass slide. The aim of our experiment is to study the optimal
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Master mold fabricated using micro milling is an easy way to develop the polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) based microfluidic device. Achieving high-quality micro-milled surface is important for excellent bonding strength between PDMS and glass slide. The aim of our experiment is to study the optimal cutting parameters for micro milling an aluminum mold insert for the production of a fine resolution microstructure with the minimum surface roughness using conventional computer numerical control (CNC) machine systems; we also aim to measure the bonding strength of PDMS with different surface roughnesses. Response surface methodology was employed to optimize the cutting parameters in order to obtain high surface smoothness. The cutting parameters were demonstrated with the following combinations: 20,000 rpm spindle speed, 50 mm/min feed rate, depth of cut 5 µm with tool size 200 µm or less; this gives a fine resolution microstructure with the minimum surface roughness and strong bonding strength between PDMS–PDMS and PDMS–glass. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-Of-The-Art Micromachining)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Biomaterials Meet Microfluidics: From Synthesis Technologies to Biological Applications
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 255; doi:10.3390/mi8080255
Received: 7 July 2017 / Revised: 28 July 2017 / Accepted: 14 August 2017 / Published: 19 August 2017
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Abstract
Microfluidics is characterized by laminar flow at micro-scale dimension, high surface to volume ratio, and markedly improved heat/mass transfer. In addition, together with advantages of large-scale integration and flexible manipulation, microfluidic technology has been rapidly developed as one of the most important platforms
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Microfluidics is characterized by laminar flow at micro-scale dimension, high surface to volume ratio, and markedly improved heat/mass transfer. In addition, together with advantages of large-scale integration and flexible manipulation, microfluidic technology has been rapidly developed as one of the most important platforms in the field of functional biomaterial synthesis. Compared to biomaterials assisted by conventional strategies, functional biomaterials synthesized by microfluidics are with superior properties and performances, due to their controllable morphology and composition, which have shown great advantages and potential in the field of biomedicine, biosensing, and tissue engineering. Take the significance of microfluidic engineered biomaterials into consideration; this review highlights the microfluidic synthesis technologies and biomedical applications of materials. We divide microfluidic based biomaterials into four kinds. According to the material dimensionality, it includes: 0D (particulate materials), 1D (fibrous materials), 2D (sheet materials), and 3D (construct forms of materials). In particular, micro/nano-particles and micro/nano-fibers are introduced respectively. This classification standard could include all of the microfluidic biomaterials, and we envision introducing a comprehensive and overall evaluation and presentation of microfluidic based biomaterials and their applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomedical Microfluidic Devices)
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Other

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Open AccessFeature PaperPerspective Digital PCR: Endless Frontier of ‘Divide and Conquer’
Micromachines 2017, 8(8), 231; doi:10.3390/mi8080231
Received: 28 June 2017 / Revised: 18 July 2017 / Accepted: 18 July 2017 / Published: 25 July 2017
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Abstract
Digital polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is becoming ever more recognized amid the overwhelming revolution in DNA quantification, genomics, genetics, and diagnostics led by technologies such as next generation sequencing and studies at the single-cell level. The demand to quantify the amount of DNA
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Digital polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is becoming ever more recognized amid the overwhelming revolution in DNA quantification, genomics, genetics, and diagnostics led by technologies such as next generation sequencing and studies at the single-cell level. The demand to quantify the amount of DNA and RNA has been driven to the molecular level and digital PCR, with its unprecedented quantification capability, is sure to shine in the coming era. Two decades ago, it emerged as a concept; yet one decade ago, integration with microfluidics invigorated this field. Today, many methods have come to public knowledge and applications surrounding digital PCR is mounting. However, to reach wider accessibility and better practicality, efforts are needed to tackle the remaining problems. This perspective looks back at several inspiring and influential digital PCR approaches in the past and tries to provide a futuristic picture of the trends of digital PCR technologies to come. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insights and Advancements in Microfluidics)
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