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The laboratory on a chip: a new approach to chemical analysis and beyond

DEREK CRASTON and SIMON COWEN
Science Progress (1933-)
Vol. 81, No. 3 (1998), pp. 225-244
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43423946
Page Count: 20
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The laboratory on a chip: a new approach to chemical analysis and beyond
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Abstract

Advances in microengineering now make possible the fabrication of microcomponents such as pumps and valves that are only a few cubic millimetres in size. Current trends suggest that these components might be massproduced easily, using inexpensive materials such as polymers. By combining individual components, microsystems that perform useful chemical or biochemical functions (laboratories on a chip) should be within reach. To date, most work in microsystems has been concerned with its application to chemical analysis, where it is anticipated that miniaturisation will provide systems for carrying out at-site measurement, at very low cost and with fast response. The combination of analytical steps within a microsystem, which may include within it a chemical sensor, should provide more reliable analysis than can be achieved by a sensor on its own. Potential applications of microsystems extend beyond just analysis, with the technology also likely to impact in areas such as chemical synthesis. This article reviews current developments, including the enabling technology, theoretical performance of on-chip systems, and future trends.

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