Nanofluidics systems offer new opportunities to not only probe fundamental nanoscale transport phenomena, but also to develop tools for miniaturizing laboratory processes. Such processes may include the manipulation, separation, or study of biological molecules including DNA and proteins, as well as particles. While miniaturization may lead to higher throughput and decrease in reagent consumption, it also results in increase in surface forces, that pose challenges in design and fabrication of flexible fluidics systems that can dynamically adjust their transport properties according to the needs of various situations.
Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a nanofluidics system that allows active manipulation of fluid transport via dynamic modulation of channel cross-section. The device is composed of an elastomer, which is fractured upon mechanical stretch to create arrays of nanochannels. The channel geometry and materials mechanics are optimized such that the channel cross-sectional diameter of the nanochannels can be reversibly modulated in response to compressive force applied perpendicular to the nanochannels.
Applications and Advantages
- Study of nanoscale fluid transport phenomena
- Manipulation of biological and non-biological molecules including DNA, protein, small molecules, and nanoparticles
- Simple and straightforward fabrication procedure
- Dynamic manipulation of molecules
- Active nanostructure that can change its architecture during operation