Many of the same Western grad students from SafeSense are working on a separate startup in microfluidics for a variety of biomedical applications. After two years of research, the team recently won a provisional patent and is seeking angel investors for technology it will describe in an upcoming journal of bioelectronics and biosensors.
The team demonstrated ways to print microfluidic channels on both thin and thick, jelly-like plastic substrates. The process is significantly cheaper than current techniques which typically use MEMS on silicon substrates. In addition, printed electronics allows designs that can scale in size from a square millimeter to an A4 sized sheet of writing paper.
"We haven't tried anything bigger, but right now we don't have any size limits," said Massood Atashbar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering here.
The team designed an entire subsystem around its plastic microfluidics. A flow cell about the size of a large wedding ring box serves as a receptacle for a variety of microfluidic components as well as printed SAW sensors they developed.
A flow cell the size of a wedding ring box accommodates a variety of printed microfluidic channels, sensors, and RF probes.
Grad students also created a set of RF probe sensors to plug into the acrylic flow cells. The flow cells serve as tiny labs to test at accuracy levels measured in pico-moles for a variety of chemical and biological agents including toxic substances such as cadmium or mercury as well as food poisons, chemical weapons or different kinds of bacteria.
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