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Nano-Quakes

Courtesy of Advalytix  The Advacard is used instead of a conventional coverslip during microarray hybridization in the ArrayBooster instrument. Many microfluidics-based lab-on-a-chip devices use external pumps and micromachined parts to move liquids through tiny channels.1 Brunnthal, Germany-based Advalytix, however, takes a different approach: Its programmable microfluidic biochips dispense with micromechanics and instead employ a technology found in cellular phones to move sample volum

Aileen Constans
Courtesy of Advalytix
 The Advacard is used instead of a conventional coverslip during microarray hybridization in the ArrayBooster instrument.

Many microfluidics-based lab-on-a-chip devices use external pumps and micromachined parts to move liquids through tiny channels.1 Brunnthal, Germany-based Advalytix, however, takes a different approach: Its programmable microfluidic biochips dispense with micromechanics and instead employ a technology found in cellular phones to move sample volumes along the chip's surface.

The heart of Advalytix's technology is a "nanopump" that has no moving parts and never comes into contact with reagents or samples. The pump is based on surface acoustic waves (SAW)--a technology used in communications electronics--which are generated on a piezoelectric substrate via specially designed electrodes to which a radio frequency signal is applied. The waves propagate along the surface of the substrate like a "nanoearthquake" that transfers momentum to any substance applied to the chip's surface. "This mechanical wave that's...

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