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NIST-Cornell team builds world's first nanofluidic device with complex 3-D surfaces
Date:3/31/2009

GAITHERSBURG, Md.Researchers at the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Cornell University have capitalized on a process for manufacturing integrated circuits at the nanometer (billionth of a meter) level and used it to develop a method for engineering the first-ever nanoscale fluidic (nanofluidic) device with complex three-dimensional surfaces.

As described in a paper published online today in the journal Nanotechnology,* the Lilliputian chamber is a prototype for future tools with custom-designed surfaces to manipulate and measure different types of nanoparticles in solution.

Among the potential applications for this technology: the processing of nanomaterials for manufacturing; the separation and measuring of complex nanoparticle mixtures for drug delivery, gene therapy and nanoparticle toxicology; and the isolation and confinement of individual DNA strands for scientific study as they are forced to unwind and elongate (DNA typically coils into a ball-like shape in solution) within the shallowest passages of the device.

Nanofluidic devices are usually fabricated by etching tiny channels into a glass or silicon wafer with the same lithographic procedures used to manufacture circuit patterns on computer chips. These flat rectangular channels are then topped with a glass cover that is bonded in place. Because of the limitations inherent to conventional nanofabrication processes, almost all nanofluidic devices to date have had simple geometries with only a few depths. This limits their ability to separate mixtures of nanoparticles with different sizes or study the nanoscale behavior of biomolecules (such as DNA) in detail.

To solve the problem, NIST's Samuel Stavis and Michael Gaitan teamed with Cornell's Elizabeth Strychalski to develop a lithographic process to fabricate nanofluidic devices with complex 3-D surfaces. As a demonstration of their method, the researchers con
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Contact: Michael E. Newman
michael.newman@nist.gov
301-975-3025
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Source:Eurekalert  

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