Microfluidics is the science of designing, manufacturing, and formulating devices and systems that deal with volumes of fluid on the order of nanoliters or picoliters. Advances in microfluidics technology have paved the way for new systems to synthesize, purify, and rapidly screen chemicals, biologicals, and materials using integrated, massively-parallel, miniaturized platforms. Microfluidics, as the term is used in this report, encompasses both:
- Microfluidic components: The demand for individual components (mainly to systems assemblers); assessment of this would include market forecasts for manufacturers of the components and fabrication-related businesses.
- Microfluidic systems: End-user demand for systems; assessment of this would include market forecasts for areas such as proteomics and drug delivery.
Microfluidic instruments and processing are important to the future of medical research, as well as the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Microfluidic devices hold the promise of small analytical laboratories on a chip to identify, separate, and purify cells, biomolecules, toxins, and other materials with greater speed, sensitivity, efficiency, and affordability than standard instruments. Other potential applications of microfluidic devices include detecting chemical and biological warfare agents, delivering precise amounts of prescription drugs, keeping tabs on blood parameters for hospital patients, and monitoring the qualities of air and water.
The field of microfluidics is poised for rapid growth. Over the past decade, a technological revolution has occurred through the application of electronic chip design and fabrication techniques, which has led to the creation of commercialized microsystems. The use of MEMS is now widespread throughout many industries.
Microfluidics adds to the functionality of many MEMS devices and is opening up new applications and areas for commercialization. The technology enables complex chemical and biological reactions to be carried out and analyzed using extremely small sample volumes, typically in the nanoliter range. This is especially useful in drug discovery, diagnostic testing, and genomics, where the manipulation of complicated and expensive biological fluids is required. Because samples can remain concentrated, microfluidics testing results in faster response times. In addition, the miniature size of the components allows for the construction of compact high-throughput systems that otherwise would take up immense amounts of laboratory space.
The chemical and life-science industries are developing a wide range of analytical and diagnostic applications using microfluidic technologies. Immediate practical applications of microfluidics include DNA sequencing and analysis, high-throughput DNA screening, protein analysis, clinical diagnostics, drug discovery, and pharmacogenomics. Additional fields of use include industrial applications, polymer synthesis, combinatorial drug synthesis, food monitoring, bioagricultural applications, environmental monitoring, military applications, and micropumps for medical devices.
The above is an extract from the BCC Research report, Microfluidics: Technologies and GlobalMarkets (SMC036D). To download the complimentary first chapter, please click above.