This cluster focuses on the development of microfluidic and sensor technologies. The key goal of this cluster is to efficiently collect and manipulate biological materials and information. Microfluidics is the science and technology of manipulating small volumes of fluid. Although the term “microfluidics” may not be familiar, its implications are all around us. All living organisms including plants and the human body have many small tubes and ducts running throughout. These fluidic circuits circulate nutrients to sustain life and convey chemical information signals to coordinate it. Recently technology used to create integrated microelectronic circuits found in our cell phones and computers has been adapted to fabrication of integrated microfluidic circuits. Such user-designed microchannel networks not only allows re-creation of the fluidic microenvironment within the body to allow engineering of miniature organ systems, but other advanced capabilities such as isolation of cancer cells from blood and development of efficient diagnostic devices.
When coupled with novel sensors and sensor materials, microfluidics enables high throughput sensing, integrated sample processing for point-of-care diagnostics, and ubiquitous environmental monitoring. Our faculty develop sensitive, specific, robust, and user-friendly sensors utilizing cutting edge chemistry, physics, nanotechnology, and electronics. Microfluidics and sensor technologies provide information needed for advancing fundamental scientific understanding as well as for enhancing human health and promoting environmental protection.