have announced that they are collaborating with Japanese technology company
Nano Fusion Technologies (NFT), in the application of electro-osmotic micro
pump technology for use in microfluidic applications. This collaboration will
enable the development of very small scale pumping systems for use in such areas
as drug delivery, drug discovery, point of care systems and a broad range of
Microfluidics, a technology also known as ‘lab on a chip', is an exciting
new field of science and engineering that enables very small-scale fluid control
and analysis, allowing instrument manufacturers to develop smaller, more cost-effective
and more powerful systems.
With lab-on-a-chip technology, entire complex chemical management and analysis
systems are created in a microfluidic chip and interfaced with, for example,
electronic and optical detection systems.
"There is no doubt that microfluidics is starting to revolutionise instrument
design," said Dr Gillian Davis, Regional Sales Manager for Dolomite. "The
considerable benefits of microfluidic chips are now widely understood but the
challenge remains in how we integrate them into complete systems. In this respect,
the NFT technology is very exciting for our industry. This micro pump technology
has a very small footprint and no moving parts, so is ideal for handheld and
portable systems. In addition to this, it offers a very smooth flow, precise
control and is capable of very low delivery volumes; making it ideal for clinical
diagnostics, drug delivery and drug discovery applications."
The micro pump is operated by applying a DC voltage and can also be controlled
using a PWM (Pulse Width Modulated) signal to deliver variable flow rates for
specific delivery requirements. The Dolomite/NFT solution also uses a specially
developed porous material within the pump that enables the device to deliver
at pressures of more than 100 kPa. Although the working liquid for optimum use
of the pump is de-ionised water, using indirect pumping methods, the micro electro-osmotic
pump can be used with any liquid.
The micro pump can also be supplied with a power source and a flow sensor to
assist in the early development of a system. The power source allows variable
voltages to be applied to the pump and the highly accurate flow sensor provides
the necessary feedback for stable control. This system is then interfaced to
a personal computer to enable control and analysis.
"The fact that this is a device intended for mounting on a PCB really
does indicate the direction in which microfluidics is heading," said Dr
Davis. "It's increasingly where chemistry meets electronics, and it's opening
up a whole new generation of possibilities in instrument design. We are seeing
enormous interest in our work, from all around the world. Microfluidics is very
much an emerging technology that is now being adopted by scientists and engineers
working on commercial projects."
Dolomite is a leader in the field of microfluidics. They have previously won
£2m in funding from the UK Department of Trade and Industry's Micro and
Nano Technology (MNT) Manufacturing Initiative; this allowed Dolomite to establish
excellent microfabrication facilities that include cleanrooms, precision glass
processing facilities and applications laboratories. In addition to this, Dolomite
has managed to attract top quality engineering and scientific staff with strong
backgrounds across the broad range of disciplines required for success in bringing
microfluidics applications to the market, including chemistry, biotechnology,
control system development, electronics, physics and instrument design and supply.
Dolomite is fast becoming a global company with offices in the UK, US and Japan
and distributors throughout the rest of the world. Its clients range from universities
developing leading-edge analytical equipment, to manufacturers of chemical,
life sciences and clinical-diagnostic systems. Dolomite and NFT will be co-exhibiting
at µTAS 2008. The 12th International Conference for Miniaturized Systems
for Chemistry and Life Sciences is being held at the Sheraton Hotel & Marina,
San Diego, CA, USA, October 12-16, 2008.
Posted October 10th, 2008