Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > INBT researchers use LEGO to study what happens inside lab-on-a-chip devices

German Drazer, asst. prof. of ChemBE, shows how a LEGO set-up can explain forces in mircofluidic arrays. (Will Kirk/JHU)
German Drazer, asst. prof. of ChemBE, shows how a LEGO set-up can explain forces in mircofluidic arrays. (Will Kirk/JHU)

Abstract:
Johns Hopkins engineers are using a popular children's toy to help them visualize the behavior of particles, cells and molecules in environments too small to see with the naked eye.

INBT researchers use LEGO to study what happens inside lab-on-a-chip devices

Baltimore, MD | Posted on December 2nd, 2009

These researchers are arranging little LEGO pieces shaped like pegs to recreate microscopic activity taking place inside lab-on-a-chip devices at a scale they can more easily observe. These lab-on-a-chip devices, also known as microfluidic arrays, are commonly used to sort tiny samples by size, shape or composition, but the minuscule forces at work at such a small magnitude are difficult to measure. To solve this small problem, the Johns Hopkins engineers decided to think big.

Led by Joelle Frechette and German Drazer, both assistant professors of chemical and biomolecular engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering, the team used beads just a few millimeters in diameter, an aquarium filled with goopy glycerol and the LEGO pieces arranged on a LEGO board to unlock mysteries occurring at the micro- or nanoscale level. Their observations could offer clues on how to improve the design and fabrication of lab-on-a-chip technology. Their study concerning this technique was published in the August 14 issue of Physical Review Letters. Both Drazer and Frechette are affiliated faculty members of Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology.

The idea for this project comes from the concept of "dimensional analysis," in which a process is studied at a different size and time scale while keeping the governing principles the same.

"Microfluidic arrays are like miniature chemical plants," Frechette says. "One of the key components of these devices is the ability to separate one type of constituent from another. We investigated a microfluidic separation method that we suspected would remain the same when you scale it up from micrometers or nanometers to something as large as the size of billiard balls."

With this goal in mind, Frechette and Drazer constructed an array using cylindrical LEGO pegs stacked two high and arranged in rows and columns on a LEGO board to create a lattice of obstacles. The board was attached to a Plexiglas sheet to improve its stiffness and pressed up against one wall of a Plexiglas tank filled with glycerol. Stainless steel balls of three different sizes, as well as plastic balls, were manually released from the top of the array. Their paths to the bottom were tracked and timed with a camera.

The entire set-up, Drazer said, cost a few hundred dollars and could easily be replicated as a science fair experiment.

Graduate students Manuel Balvin and Tara Iracki, and undergraduate Eunkyung Sohn, all from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, performed multiple trials using each type of bead. They progressively rotated the board, increasing the relative angle between gravity and the columns of the array (that is, altering the forcing angle). In doing so, they saw that the large particles did not move through the array in a diffuse or random manner, as their small counterparts usually did in a microfluidic array. Instead, their paths were deterministic, meaning that they could be predicted with precision, Drazer said.

The researchers also noticed that the path followed by the balls was periodic once the balls were in motion and coincided with the direction of the lattice. As the forcing angle increased, some of the balls tended to shift over one, two, three or as many as four pegs before continuing their vertical fall.

"Our experiment shows that if you know one single parameter—a measure of the asymmetry in the motion of a particle around a single obstacle—you can predict the path that particles will follow in a microfluidic array at any forcing angle, simply by doing geometry." Drazer said.

The fact that the balls moved in the same direction inside the array for different forcing angles is referred to as phase-locking. If the array were to be scaled down to micro- or nanosize, the researchers said they would expect these phenomena to still be present and even increase depending on the factors such as the unavoidable irregularities of particle size or surface roughness.

"There are forces present between a particle and an obstacle when they get really close to each other, which are present whether the system is at the micro- or nanoscale or as large as the LEGO board," Frechette said. "In this separation method, the periodic arrangement of the obstacles allows the small effect of these forces to accumulate, and amplify, which we suspect is the mechanism for particle separation."

This principle could be applied to the design of micro- or nanofluidic arrays, she added, so that they could be fabricated to "sort particles that had a different roughness, different charge or different size. They should follow a different path in an array and could be collected separately."

Phase-locking is likely to become less important, Drazer cautioned, as the number of particles in solution becomes more concentrated. "Next," he said, "we have to look at how concentrated your suspension can be before this principle is destroyed by particle-particle interactions."

The research was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund.

Reference: "Directional locking and the role of irreversible interactions in deterministic hydrodynamics separations in microfluidic devices" Manuel Balvin, Eunkyung Sohn, Tara Iracki, German Drazer, and Joelle Frechette, Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 078301 (2009).

Story by Mary Spiro

####

About Johns Hopkins
The Institute for NanoBioTechnology at Johns Hopkins University brings together 193 researchers from: Bloomberg School of Public Health, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, School of Medicine, Applied Physics Laboratory, and Whiting School of Engineering to create new knowledge and new technologies at the interface of nanoscience and medicine.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
For media inquiries contact:
Mary Spiro

410 516-4802

Copyright © Johns Hopkins

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Imaging electric charge propagating along microbial nanowires October 20th, 2014

Design of micro and nanoparticles to improve treatments for Alzheimers and Parkinsons: At the Faculty of Pharmacy of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country encapsulation techniques are being developed to deliver correctly and effectively certain drugs October 20th, 2014

Physicists build reversible laser tractor beam October 20th, 2014

Removal of Limitations of Composites at Superheat Temperatures October 20th, 2014

Videos/Movies

Ucore's McKenzie to Deliver Presentation to Rare Earths Conference in Singapore as Highlight of Fall 2014 Marketplace Schedule October 19th, 2014

Australian teams set new records for silicon quantum computing October 12th, 2014

Nanoparticles get a magnetic handle: New method produces particles that can glow with color-coded light and be manipulated with magnets October 9th, 2014

NIST quantum probe enhances electric field measurements October 8th, 2014

Nano-bearings on the test bench: Fullerene spheres can be used to slide in the nanoworld October 3rd, 2014

Microfluidics/Nanofluidics

Dolomite and Lab on a Chip launch Productizing Science® Competition 2015 October 7th, 2014

Dolomite to launch Meros TCU-100 temperature controller at Lab-on-a-Chip & Microarray World Congress September 15th, 2014

First Colloid and Polymer Science Lecture awarded to Orlin D. Velev: Chemical engineer honored for outstanding research in colloid science September 12th, 2014

Possible Futures

Imaging electric charge propagating along microbial nanowires October 20th, 2014

Superconducting circuits, simplified: New circuit design could unlock the power of experimental superconducting computer chips October 18th, 2014

Nanocoatings Market By Product Is Expected To Reach USD 8.17 Billion By 2020: Grand View Research, Inc. October 15th, 2014

Perpetuus Carbon Group Receives Independent Verification of its Production Capacity for Graphenes at 140 Tonnes per Annum: Perpetuus Becomes the First Manufacturer in the Sector to Allow Third Party Audit October 7th, 2014

Nanomedicine

Design of micro and nanoparticles to improve treatments for Alzheimers and Parkinsons: At the Faculty of Pharmacy of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country encapsulation techniques are being developed to deliver correctly and effectively certain drugs October 20th, 2014

Non-Toxic Nanocatalysts Open New Window for Significant Decrease in Reaction Process October 19th, 2014

European Commission opens the gate towards the implementation of Nanomedicine Translation Hub October 16th, 2014

Tuning light to kill deep cancer tumors: Nanoparticles developed at UMass Medical School advance potential clinical application for photodynamic therapy October 15th, 2014

Announcements

Imaging electric charge propagating along microbial nanowires October 20th, 2014

Design of micro and nanoparticles to improve treatments for Alzheimers and Parkinsons: At the Faculty of Pharmacy of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country encapsulation techniques are being developed to deliver correctly and effectively certain drugs October 20th, 2014

Physicists build reversible laser tractor beam October 20th, 2014

Removal of Limitations of Composites at Superheat Temperatures October 20th, 2014

Grants/Awards/Scholarships/Gifts/Contests/Honors/Records

Crystallizing the DNA nanotechnology dream: Scientists have designed the first large DNA crystals with precisely prescribed depths and complex 3D features, which could create revolutionary nanodevices October 20th, 2014

QD Vision Wins Prestigious Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency October 16th, 2014

Beyond LEDs: Brighter, new energy-saving flat panel lights based on carbon nanotubes - Planar light source using a phosphor screen with highly crystalline single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) as field emitters demonstrates its potential for energy-efficient lighting device October 14th, 2014

Unique catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells synthesized in ordinary kitchen microwave oven October 14th, 2014

Nanobiotechnology

Crystallizing the DNA nanotechnology dream: Scientists have designed the first large DNA crystals with precisely prescribed depths and complex 3D features, which could create revolutionary nanodevices October 20th, 2014

Scientists Map Key Moment in Assembly of DNA-Splitting Molecular Machine: Crucial steps and surprising structures revealed in the genesis of the enzyme that divides the DNA double helix during cell replication October 15th, 2014

DNA nano-foundries cast custom-shaped metal nanoparticles: DNA's programmable assembly is leveraged to form precise 3D nanomaterials for disease detection, environmental testing, electronics and beyond October 10th, 2014

Charged graphene gives DNA a stage to perform molecular gymnastics October 9th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE





  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE