Lab on a Chipnano Technologychemistrydeviceschemical Analysisprecision Fabrication

The advent of nanotechnology has opened up the lab-on- a-chip technology in many fields such as chemistry, physics, electronics, biomedical engineering, electronics, biology, chemical engineering and so on. Having utility and practical application in a wide range of areas varying from space exploration to pathology, the lab-on-a-chip concept has taken root in scientific fields of study over the last few years. The miniaturization of the computer chip has contributed to this development.

This concept of lab-on-a-chip, when applied to miniaturization of chemistry would involve the integration of various conventional and improvised chemical analysis tools to computer chips. Such a process would result in the development of new devices which are economically viable and able to identify the chemical composition of several substances wherever these devices are deployed. For example, the presence of an explosive device can be immediately sensed as the lab-on-a-chip mounted on a mobile device should be able to sense the chemical composition of the explosive and identify it. 

The incorporation of the tools of conventional chemistry and chemical analysis, on to a micro chip is however not an easy task. In order to detect and identify a gas, one would first of all need to the collect a micro sample of the gas. Identification of the gas and its components would thereafter take place with the help of nano devices incorporated in the micro chip enabling the concept of lab on a chip to function. An important factor which controls the design of nano devices which need to be embedded on micro chips is the surface tension characteristics of the substances to be identified.

The lab on a chip and miniature chemistry concept depends to a great deal on the development of excellent precision fabrication capabilities as well as micro design of components required to collect samples, detect them only from minute traces of chemicals and thereafter for the separation of the components of the analyzed substances.

Another important aspect of the lab-on-a-chip is its communication capability. The chip should be able to digitally display the results of the chemical analysis or communicate the results in any other efficient manner.

Economically viable precision fabrication and production, perhaps similar to current day computer chip manufacturing practices and technologies, can generate the use of the concept of lab-on-a-chip for miniaturization of chemistry and chemical analysis for a wide range of practical applications. These could range from detecting weapons and explosives to monitoring the state of health a patient in the hospital. Using the lab on a chip concept, daily use devices similar to mobile phones may soon come on the market at reasonable costs and with capabilities to test potability of water, determine the safety of the neighborhood and test contamination or otherwise of food items and so on