Organising Chemical Reaction Networks in Space and Time with Microfluidics

Organising Chemical Reaction Networks in Space and Time with Microfluidics

Gareth Jones (University of Southampton, UK), Chris Lovell (University of Southampton, UK), Hywel Morgan (University of Southampton, UK) and Klaus-Peter Zauner (University of Southampton, UK)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/jnmc.2011010104


Information processing is essential for any lifeform to maintain its organisation despite continuous entropic disturbance. Macromolecules provide the ubiquitous underlying substrate on which nature implements information processing and have also come into focus for technical applications. There are two distinct approaches to the use of molecules for computing. Molecules can be employed to mimic the logic switches of conventional computers or they can be used in a way that exploits the complex functionality offered by a molecular computing substrate. Prerequisite to the latter is a mapping of input-output transform provided by the substrate. This paper reviews microfluidic technology as a versatile means to achieve this, show how it can be used, and provide proven recipes for its application.
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Microfluidics is implemented through the patterning of micrometre-sized networks of fluidic channels on a substrate material. The fluidic channels may be designed such that multiple laboratory functions, mixing, diluting and measurement are integrated into a chip no larger than a few centimetres square—giving rise to the term lab-on-a-chip. As a technology it allows for a more fine-grained control over reaction condition than what is typically available in bulk chemistry. This is largely due to the fact that in small volumes surface effects are more prominent.

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