Developing Miniature Labs
Dr. Nadine Aubry is working to develop tiny labs on microchips for medical diagnosis and treatment.
Developing microchip technology for miniature chemical and biological laboratories and reactors is a major goal of the New Jersey Center for Micro-Flow Control, led by Nadine Aubry, F. Leslie and Mildred Jacobus Distinguished Professor and chair of mechanical engineering. Using MEMS fabrication techniques and nanotechnology, the research team is working to create tiny labs on microchips for use in minute chemical synthesis, drug delivery, cell separation and manipulation, DNA and protein analysis, and other applications. Dr. Aubry projects that these tiny labs will be able to identify and combat bacteria, viruses, spores and cancerous cells in the bloodstream, as well as to counter the effects of biological warfare agents.
A major challenge is to control fluid flows to pump, mix and separate the fluids involved. Dr. Aubry's research activities concentrate precisely on these areas: transporting fluids in microliter and nanoliters quantities; mixing two tiny fluid streams; and separating fluids as well as the materials they carry such as cells and molecules. While the Center is exploring various ways to control minute fluid flows, a promising technique is the use of micro/nano electrodes and magnets, rather than moving mechanical parts that may not be reliable at small scale or complex geometries that may not be easy to manufacture.