Auros (auros) wrote,
Auros
auros

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Nanotech with simple household objects?

Shrinky-Dink Microfluidics has to be one of the most improbable titles for a scientific paper I've ever encountered. And I love the lead investigator's description of how she came up with it -- as a junior faculty member, she didn't have access to the expensive equipment and cleanroom she would've normally needed to work in this area, so she came up with a way to imitate it. Perhaps this explains the pattern of young faculty having genius ideas, while the older, established folks are less productive. Necessity is the mother of invention...

You will need:

* A 600 dpi laser printer.
* A toaster oven.
* Some shrinky-dinks (a children's toy; sheets of plastic that you can draw on, then shrink by warming them up, causing the ink on them to become denser and somewhat textured/raised).
* Some Polydimethylsiloxane plastic. (PDMS is a variety of silicone, and a key ingredient in Silly Putty; it's capable flowing and being shaped, but under pressure is highly elastic -- if you left an uncured ball sitting around for a few days, it would flow to become a puddle, but if you then rolled it into a ball again and threw it at the same surface, it would bounce.)
* A sheet of glass and a bonding agent.

Print a pattern on a shrinky-dink. Shrink it, causing the inked patterns to rise, forming a mold. Pour some PDMS over your mold. Cure, peel away. Bond to glass.

You are now the proud owner of a microfluidic device. If you design it well enough, you might be able to do things like separate and recombine liquids in precise proportions; generate electricity in a fuel cell; or create DNA microarrays.
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