With the new method, it is possible to accommodate up to 5,000 pumps on one square centimetre. Moreover, the new approach does not rely on elastic materials as are required for pneumatic pumps. "It is much easier to produce suitable chips for applications if they only consist of a single material, silicon, if at all possible," says Clemens Bechinger. As the electrical control components like the mini-coils can be fabricated based on silicon, it would be ideal to make the microchannels from the same material. This would allow for integration of all the components on one chip, as in microelectronics," says Bechinger.
Currently the researchers are still using large coils, so that all the components are driven by a single magnetic field and they all move in time with each other. However, this need not be a disadvantage as processes in many applications run in parallel; for example when the pharmaceutical industry searches for a new active ingredient amongst many thousands of substances. Furthermore, the researchers can choose the geometry of the channels so skilfully that different aggregates fulfil completely different functions in the same magnetic field. This means that the Stuttgart physicists' method offers the option of driving a complex network of individual, standalone components with only one magnetic field.
|Contact: Clemens Bechinger|