Scientists Put Microfluidic Devices in Stitches

February 19, 2010

1 Min Read
Scientists Put Microfluidic Devices in Stitches

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monash_thread

Cotton thread enables the creation of 3-D microfluidic channels. Photo: Monash University

Household sewing supplies could be the key to the development of a novel diagnostic device. As explained in a recent issue of the journal Applied Materials & Interfaces, scientists from Monash University (Victoria, Australia) employed conventional cotton thread and sewing needles to fabricate low-cost, lab-on-a-chip devices.Electronic threads have been the subject of various studies; however, the researchers believe that this is the first time that cotton threads have been used to engineer microfluidic products. To do so, the team sewed cotton thread onto another material, such as polymer films or paper, thereby creating 3-D passageways. Acting as a microfluidic channel, the thread allows for the transport of liquid via capillary wicking and without the need for an external pump. It also enables the development of channels that are more complicated than those in lateral flow systems, according to the researchers."Threads allow complex continuous 3-D microfluidic channels to be built without the need of patterned barriers to define the liquid wicking passageways," according to the paper. "High-density thread circuitries can be built in a relatively small space that is suitable for miniaturization. Fabrication of such 3-D microfluidic structures with threads requires only some basic tools such as a sewing needle or a household sewing machine, and is therefore less reliant on sophisticated equipment required for patterned paper devices."

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