Microfluidics is both the science which studies the behaviour of fluids through micro-channels, and the technology of manufacturing micro-miniaturized devices containing chambers and tunnels through which fluids flow or are confined.
Microfluidics deal with very small volumes of fluids, down to femtoliters (fL) which is a quadrillionth of a liter. Fluids behave very differently on the micrometric scale than they do in everyday life: these unique features are the key for new scientific experiments and innovations.
At Satapathi Lab, we are perfecting 3D Printing based fabrication of microfluidic devices for making Lab-On-Chip devices for Point-of-Care applications and the trace detection of compounds, biomarkers.
Microfluidics-based diagnostics is an emerging field and is preferred over conventional diagnostic systems because of the faster sample processing, lower reagent volume per test and the fact that it allows for Point-of-Care (POC) diagnosis in inaccessible areas. We design POC diagnosis devices with integrated optical and electronic sensors for both pathogenic diseases (M.Tb, Dengue, Malaria etc.) and non-pathogenic diseases like various forms of Cancer. ELISA and MTT Assays are some of the commonly used diagnostic methodologies in laboratories and we work towards the development of their ‘On-Chip’ versions which are more sensitive than the conventional assays, but at the same time are cost-effective and could be deployed in remote locations.
(b) DROPLET MICROFLUIDICS
Droplet-based microfluidic systems have been shown to be compatible with many chemical and biological reagents and capable of performing a variety of “digital-fluidic” operations that can be rendered programmable and reconfigurable. This platform has dimensional scaling benefits that have enabled controlled and rapid mixing of fluids in the droplet reactors, resulting in decreased reaction times. In addition to using the droplets as microreactors ranging from the nano- to femtoliter range; we are using the droplet-based systems to directly synthesize nano-particles and encapsulate many biological entities for biomedicine and solar, and sensor applications.
The concept of Organ-on-Chip deals with bio-mimicry of various human organs viz. lungs, gut, heart etc. into their on-chip analogues which will not only allows us to study the behaviour of various tissues under cyclic stress environments present in organs like lung and heart, but also to test the kinetics of various drugs and proliferation of infectious diseases under such environments. This is one of the most challenging fields in biotechnology since it not only involves designing intensive microfluidic networks similar to arteries and veins in the human body but also bio-printing of cells into a mechanically stable structure capable of developing into mature tissues.