Palo Alto, CA--June 3, 1996--A new technology is being developed that could revolutionize the way in which laboratory analysis is performed. The technology, called "Laboratory on a Microchip" is a project at Caliper Technologies Corp. It effectively miniaturizes, accelerates and automates the cumbersome lab equipment and complex procedures currently being used for scientific and medical laboratory analysis.
Based on technology pioneered at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, TN), the LabChip uses microchip technology that is very well-developed in the semiconductor industry. But instead of moving electrons along tiny wires on a microchip, minute amounts of fluid, as small as 100 picoliters, are moved through microscopic channels on the chip surface. By configuring these channels in various ways, the LabChip can reproduce liquid-handling elements such as pumps, valves, tubes and mixers, and link them to create complete chemical processing systems on a microchip less than 2 cm wide.
Fluids are moved across the chip by electrokinetic forces. Changes in voltage across portions of the chip govern the rate and direction at which liquids are moved through the various portions of the chip. Specially designed computer programs control the voltage applied to microscopic fluid reservoirs on the chip, creating functional valves and pumps with no moving parts.
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