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Microfluidics is both the science which studies the behaviour of fluids through micro-channels, and the technology of manufacturing microminiaturized devices containing chambers and tunnels through which fluids flow are confined. Microfluidics deals with very small volumes of fluids, down to femtoliters (fL), which is a quadrillionth of a liter. Fluids behave very differently on the micrometric scale than they do in everyday life: these unique features are the key for new scientific experiments and innovations.
 

It is the study of the behavior, manipulation, and control of fluids that are confined to structures of nanometer (typically 1–100 nm) characteristic dimensions (1 nm = 10−9 m). Fluids confined in these structures exhibit physical behaviors not observed in larger structures, such as those of micrometer dimensions and above, because the characteristic physical scaling lengths of the fluid, (e.g. Debye length, hydrodynamic radius) very closely coincide with the dimensions of the nanostructure itself.

Biofluid dynamics may be considered as the discipline of biological engineering or biomedical engineering in which the fundamental principles of fluid dynamics are used to explain the mechanisms of biological flows and their interrelationships with physiological processes, in health and in diseases/disorder. It can be considered as the conjuncture of mechanical engineering and biological engineering. It spans from cells to organs, covering diverse aspects of the functionality of systemic physiology, including cardiovascular, respiratory, reproductive, urinary, musculoskeletal and neurological systems etc.

In physics and engineering, fluid dynamics is a sub-discipline of fluid mechanics that describes the flow of fluids—liquids and gases. It has several sub-disciplines, including aerodynamics (the study of air and other gases in motion) and hydrodynamics (the study of liquids in motion). Fluid dynamics has a wide range of applications, including calculating forces and moments on aircraft, determining the mass flow rate of petroleum through pipelines, predicting weather patterns, understanding nebulae in interstellar space and modeling fission weapon detonation. Fluid dynamics offers a systematic structure—which underlies these practical disciplines—that embraces empirical and semi-empirical laws derived from flow measurement and used to solve practical problems

Paper microfluidic devices are mainly designed for the detection of various types of substances and compounds though they can perform other specific tasks. In fact, they can not only be used for biochemical analysis but also for medical and forensic diagnostics. There is a wide variety of paper that can be employed to build microfluidic devices, with compositions ranging from cellulose to glass or polymer, and each type of paper can bring different functionality depending on the applications.

 

Microarray DNA hybridization techniques have been used widely from basic to applied molecular biology research. Generally, in a DNA microarray, different probe DNA molecules are immobilized on a solid support in groups and form an array of microspots. Then, hybridization to the microarray can be performed by applying sample DNA solutions in either the bulk or the microfluidic manner.

 

Microfluidic cell culture integrates knowledge from biology, biochemistry, engineering, and physics to develop devices and techniques for culturing, maintaining, analyzing, and experimenting with cells at the microscale. It merges microfluidics, a set of technologies used for the manipulation of small fluid volumes (μL, nL, pL) within artificially fabricated microsystems, and cell culture, which involves the maintenance and growth of cells in a controlled laboratory environment. Microfluidics has been used for cell biology studies as the dimensions of the microfluidic channels are well suited for the physical scale of cells.

 

Acoustic droplet ejection (ADE) uses a pulse of ultrasound to move low volumes of fluids (typically nanoliters or picoliters) without any physical contact. This technology focuses acoustic energy into a fluid sample in order to eject droplets as small as a picoliter. ADE technology is a very gentle process, and it can be used to transfer proteins, high molecular weight DNA and live cells without damage or loss of viability. This feature makes the technology suitable for a wide variety of applications including proteomics and cell-based assays.

 

Electroosmotic pumping is receiving increasing attention in recent years owing to the rapid development in micro total analytical systems. Compared with other micropumps, electroosmotic pumps (EOPs) offer a number of advantages such as creation of constant pulse-free flows and elimination of moving parts. The flow rates and pumping pressures of EOPs matches well with micro analysis systems. The common materials and fabrication technologies make it readily integrateable with lab-on-a-chip devices.

 

Active flow control (AFC) has re‐emerged as a formidable research area in aerodynamics. The control of large coherent structures via periodic perturbations and the mechanical means to achieve this have been at the heart of these developments. Most of the AFC research has focused on airfoil configurations including so-called simplified high-lift systems, although drag reduction, three-dimensional configurations and flows, are also actively researched.

 

Thermofluid sciences involve the study of the heat transfer, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics and mass transfer in complex engineering systems. Many of the applications of thermofluid sciences focus on the development of alternative and sustainable energy technologies. The department hosts a wide variety of research projects in this area. These projects range of the study of high-temperature solid oxide fuel cells, to micro- and nano-scale heat transfer in energy materials, to understanding the fundamental physics occurring at the interfaces of bubbles and multiphase systems.