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Posted: Nov 09, 2012
An innovative method of fluid manipulation in micro-fluidics systems
(Nanowerk News) An innovative method of fluid manipulation in micro-fluidics systems was designed to mimic the propelling function of the cilia cellular organelles. The compatibility of the technology with bio-fluids makes it ideal for biomedical applications.
Eukaryotic cells often use tiny, hair-like structures on their outer surface, known as cilia, as sensory organs or to propagate propulsion or flow. In the lungs for example, cilia in the airway facilitate expulsion of mucus.
ARTIC cilia were constructed from thin rubber containing dispersed super paramagnetic nanoparticles and were typically a few micrometres in length and width. Through the development of special actuation protocols, cilia were optimised to move asymmetrically generating a net flow.
To test their pumping effectiveness, a microfluidic cartridge in which the cilia were integrated on the floor of a microchannel was developed with a time-varying magnetic field for actuation. By using specific models, scientists were able to precisely estimate the interaction of these artificial cilia with complex fluids. Incorporation of tiny fluorescent beads in the fluid, and subsequent analysis of images taken as a function of time, demonstrated that the artificial cilia were capable of propelling particles.
The ARTIC-generated technology has many potential applications in biosensor devices, microchannel cooling of electronics, pharmaceutical and chemical high-throughput testing, and controlled drug delivery systems. Implementation of this innovation for conducting fast and efficient complex analyses, such as DNA profiling or pathogen identification, can advance the field of diagnostics.