Lab-on-a-chip

Lab on a chip

A lab on a chip (LOC) is a microfluidic platform that incorporates various laboratory functions. Minimizing laboratory processes to the micro-scale has many advantages for testing and monitoring processes in the medical, pharmaceutical and life sciences fields. Lab on a chip technology is also used in agricultural and environmental procedures and in food safety tests.

The purpose of lab on a chip technology

What are the benefits of converting conventional lab processes to a lab on a chip? Let’s take a closer look at four advantages of LOC technology, as there are: miniaturization, assay workflow automation, options for high throughput screening and point-of-care.

  1. Miniaturization

The main advantage of all the pluses of a lab on a chip assay is its reduced size. By miniaturizing the total assay workflow, less sample material is needed and the reaction and analysis times are shorter. Performing a test on an LOC is therefore faster and more efficient.

  1. Assay workflow automation

When several laboratory steps are incorporated on a lab on a chip platform in sequence, this leads to an automated execution of the complete test. Assay workflow automation is a great advantage because it fully relies on pre-set specifications and thus eliminates the risk of human errors.

  1. High throughput screening

Labs on chips are, due to their reduced size, ideally suited to be performed in parallel. This creates opportunities for high-throughput screening: simultaneously running multiple equal tests on one device. Large-scale screening of biological compounds can greatly accelerate processes in the fields of drug discovery and virus testing.

  1. Point-of-care

Finally, let’s not forget point-of-care as a rapidly evolving trend in healthcare. Point-of-care means that tests and treatments are carried out directly at the required location. Lab on a chip technology offers excellent opportunities for this – all elements required to perform a test are available on the few square inches of this platform. The total assay can be completed on-site in a fast and efficient manner, and without the need to send sample material and test results back and forth to a lab.

Lab on a chip product manufacturing

Micronit is a unique partner in lab on a chip product development and manufacturing. We have the capabilities to process glass, silicon, polymer and hybrid combinations – all materials that are typically used in the production of microfluidics-based devices.

High-end labs on chips are mostly manufactured in glass. Glass offers the best optical transparency, chemical inertness and surface flatness. However, if structures with high aspect ratios are required (i.e., very deep and narrow channels), silicon is a more suitable substrate material. In our cleanroom we have the dry etching techniques in place to create these high aspect ratio structures in silicon.

Currently, there is a large demand for labs on chips in polymer. Polymer is by far the least expensive material of the three and is therefore mostly used for lab on a chip disposables. The processing techniques for polymer labs on chips, such as micromilling and replication, are relatively simple compared to those of glass and silicon.

Lab on a chip consumable

In cases where the lab on a chip is used in a point-of-care diagnostics application, mostly the total device will consist of a consumable and a readout system. The lab on a chip consumable is the platform that contains the actual assay workflow. It is a chip with a network of microfluidic channels and features like valves, pumps, sensors and reagents. The sample material is applied to this chip, after which the test takes place.

 

Depending on the test, a readout system can be incorporated in the lab on a chip consumable (as is done in most self-care virus tests or pregnancy tests), but mostly a separate readout device will be required to obtain the test results. The reader is a permanent device, whilst the lab on a chip is in most cases a disposable, suitable for one-time use only.

 

Polymer is a preferred substrate material for lab on a chip consumables, because this is the most attractive from a cost point of view.

Partner in lab on a chip solutions

Micronit has provided lab on a chip solutions for over 20 years. We have contributed to the development of the diagnostics market by producing increasingly sophisticated and complex lab on a chip products. We are a leading global player in this market with a unique combination of in-house engineering and manufacturing capabilities.

 

Instead of having to sit down with two different parties, our customers can benefit from a streamlined flow from lab to fab. Advantages: short lines of communication and coordinated working methods of the two departments. Next to that, we are able to process all most-used materials within lab on a chip manufacturing and our production facility is ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 13485:2016 certified.

 

Are you working on a concept for a new lab on a chip and would you like to see how Micronit’s engineering and manufacturing departments can help you out? Then contact us. Our business development managers are happy to advise and together we will get your new product ready to be launched!