You now have determined the way your fluid flows through the chip. In other words: you have created the infrastructure to make your test work. But now over to the test itself. Does your sample need any work? Or does your test require integrated reagents? Let’s look at other functionalities that your microfluidic platform may need to function as needed.
Your basic sample material does not necessarily have the correct volume or composition. To get this right, there are several sample preparation steps that can be integrated into the chip. Next to volume metering, think of filtering, mixing, or separating liquids. A major advantage of integrating these sample prep steps is that it takes away user responsibility. By automating these preparation steps into the assay, you eliminate the chance of errors that could be made when performing these steps manually.
Reagents can be introduced separately into the chip during the assay. But you can also choose to incorporate them into the microfluidic system in advance. They can be stored in dried form by spotting them on the chip surface or be kept in liquid form in blisters. This way you have the assurance that the composition and quantity of the reagent is always exactly right.
By coating the surface of the chip, the substrate material can be changed in a way that best suits the needs of your assay. Whether it concerns wettability, anti-stiction or anti-fouling properties, by choosing the right surface functionalization treatments, you can achieve the optimal surface properties to get the best results out of the test that will be performed on the platform.
When your device should be able to perform tests without the use of external hardware, you should consider the options for integrated sensors. By integrating sensors into your microfluidic platform, you receive on the spot information about the test results. Whether your chip needs optical sensing, temperature sensing or voltage/current sensing, sensor integration allows you to create a smarter device that moves complexity from surrounding systems right into the heart of the chip.