Fluidigm Technology Solves Fundamental Obstacle with Microfluidics in Life Science
Product News Jun 14, 2007
Fluidigm Corporation has achieved another first in microfluidics - a matrix chip architecture that enables both a high density of experiments (2,304 per chip) and mixing of nano-volume scale fluids.
This advance is one of several that have established IFCs as a paradigm for life-science research, much as the integrated circuit revolutionized electronics. The chip will allow Fluidigm to enter end-point PCR detection markets, such as SNP genotyping, which require both high-throughput and fully mixed reaction components.
“Several companies have tried and failed to deliver nano-volume genotyping platforms that match the performance of the current favored macro-chemistries,” said Fluidigm CEO Gajus Worthington. “We believe we know why, and, with this new architecture, we’ve overcome a major obstacle that has thwarted other microfluidics platforms. We hope to have this new chip in production soon.”
Additional milestones commercialized by Fluidigm include integrated channels and valves, reaction chambers, and vias (vertical connections between fluid networks).
Overcoming the obstacle of microfluidic mixing has been problematic because of the inherent behavior of fluids in microscopic environments.
Fluidigm has resolved this problem through integration of features within the IFC. Reagent is loaded into a microchannel and contained by valves, in effect, as a “reagent slug”. These containment valves then open to allow sample to be introduced into the same channel in contact with the slug. Valves and external pressure are then used to squirt the reagent/sample into a mixing chamber, resulting in uniform reagent-to-sample ratios and full mixing of fluids.
Fluidigm has fabricated the IFC in a 48.48 architecture, i.e., a design that accepts 48 reagent inputs and 48 samples and creates 2,304 pairwise reactions. Fluidigm expects the number could quadruple to 9,216 (96.96), given the demonstrated capacity of the fabrication process.