Despite improvements in our ability to manipulate ever-smaller volumes using microfluidics, the technology remains inaccessible to many biologists as it often requires complex manufacturing facilities and uses materials foreign to cell biology. The multiphase microfluidics group is focussed upon the development of a platform technology through shaping immiscible fluids.
The physics that dominates the macro world requires solid materials to build objects; however, at the microscale interfacial forces can dominate and we have exploited these to create the world’s first fluid-shaping technology for biomedicine. By exploiting immiscible fluids, and their interfacial properties, to create fluid walled environments we have developed new methods for fabricating, and using, this new platform for a wide range of biological workflows. The method has particular advantages in cell biology, where the substitution of fluid walls for solid ones results in vastly improved optical clarity, inherent biocompatibility with traditional cell culture, orders of magnitude savings on reagents, and acceleration of workflows (e.g., single-cell cloning). The groups overarching objective is to make microfluidics accessible to biologists. The group also researches passive heat transfer methods for cooling and mixing at the microscale.