The Wave of the Future is Itty-Bitty Bubbles
by Allison Kleber
Brightly-colored streams converge to propel tiny multicolored bubbles rapidly down a tunnel in translucent plastic, headed for a swift molecular analysis;you can catch a glimpse of their progress in a short but tantalizing video shared by BU’s The Brink.
These miniscule movements are performed within a microfluidic device–a plastic chip manufactured by ECE Professor Douglas Densmore’s Cross-disciplinary Integration of Design Automation Research (CIDAR) lab, which specializes in the efficient and cost-effective development of biosensing devices. Using the networks of tiny channels and electronic sensors, these devices can be used to perform a plethora of useful analyses that used to be carried out slowly and painstakingly by hand, but now can be easily automated.
Microfluidic analysis is a key component of synthetic biology, with applications from healthcare to national defense. With this kind of speed and scalability comes limitless potential for advances and breakthroughs in biotechnology.