Groundbreaking Research in Nanofluidics

Published: July 19, 2010, midnight

Engineers Devin Brown and Nicole Devlin at the NRC create nanometer scale channels in a controlled, repeatable, and preferable simple way.

In the field of bioengineering, lab on a chip technology holds the promise to greatly improve global health care. One particularly promising technology is point of care handheld testing devices, which would allow doctors to diagnose infectious diseases, genetic disorders, or cancer. Handheld testing devices offer great benefits in developing countries, where access to laboratory testing facilities is limited. These devices could also help doctors in developed countries to more quickly provide diagnosis for detecting infectious diseases when the window of opportunity for treatment is much shorter than the lab test turnaround time.

One challenge for scientists and engineers is to create nanometer scale channels in a controlled, repeatable, and preferable simple way. Up until now most approaches have required fairly complex processing methods. NRC researchers Nicole Devlin and Devin Brown have recently developed a new technique for creating millimeter sized reservoirs down to nanometer width channels simultaneously with a simple process. The process uses electron beam lithography combined with a polynorbornene based resist to create sacrificial patterns. These patterns can then be coated with biocompatible materials such as titanium and silicon dioxide to form permanent structures. This research was recently presented at the 54th International Conference on Electron, Ion, and Photon Beam Technology and Nanofabrication in Anchorage, Alaska on June 1st - 4th, 2010.

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