Monday, August 31, 2009

"MEMS: Microfluidic fabrication innovation nets award for Michelle Khine

Taking a completely new approach to fabricating cheap, disposible microfluidic devices for medical tests, solar concentrators and other short-term applications, Shrink Nanotechnologies prints them with ink-jet printers, then shrinks the templates to the micron scale. Look for low-cost assay chips using the technology invented by Shrink founder, Michelle Khine, by 2010. R.C.J.

Michelle Khine, a professor at the University of California at Irvine, will be honored next month for inventing a method for fabricating microfluidic devices without a clean room. Khine will be one of 35 innovators under age 35 to be honored during the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Emerging Technologies Conference (EmTech2@MIT, Sept. 22-24). Khine used a toy called Shrinky Dinks (K&B Innovations Inc., North Lake, Wis.) to make prototypes of a microfluidic lab-on-a-chip. Traditional microfluidic channels used for routing fluids through a battery of tests are manufactured in a clean room using semiconductor and MEMS fabrication equipment. Khine's innovation was to print microfluidic channels on Shrinky Dink plastic sheets, then shrink them in a low-temperature oven from the millimeter to the micron scale. A solar concentrator application is a film that can be installed like a window shade over the top of existing solar panels to shift UV frequencies into the infrared range, thereby enhancing solar cell efficiency.