MIT scientists have created an alternative for microfluidic devices, which are often used in bioassays. The main task of the new device is to move droplets of bio- or chemical solutions around a surface with the help of an electric field. New system allows scientists to test thousands of reactions in parallel.
The main technical difficulty was to create a coating for the surface that reduce friction, allowing the droplets to move freely without sticking to other molecules.
As a result, the researchers covered the board with a thick layer of water-repellent material, which consists of small spheres of 1 micrometer each.
A special program controls the system; it allows the operator to specify all parameters of the experiment. It calculates the trajectory of the droplet moving and coordinates the subsequent movements. For example, substance 1 must be combined with substance 2 in these volumes, and then mixed with substance 3. The specialist does not interfere in the process, it is the task of the program.