LAB-ON-A-CHIP. A whole laboratory, but as small as a pill. Nanotechnology makes it possible. With modern technology we can miniaturize more and more devices and systems. It has big advantages for research wich normally only could be done in advanced laboratory, now can be done in the field or even at home, such as a pregnancy test. Smart combinations of sensors, electronics and microfluidic systems are now developed as “labs on a chip”.
KITT Engineering works with Devlab on a project named NanoSense, in coop with the University of Wageningen for an alternative method, namely breath analysis. The amount of ketones in your breath will vary depending on your glucose level. However, the concentrations are very small so there is a need for a small sensitive nano-sensor.
The solution is sought in a nano-wire sensor, a super thin thread, 5000 times thinner than a hair. After special treatment, the resistance of the wire depends on gas concentrations. The prototype nano-wires are made on a silicon chip of a few mm in size. KITT Engineering has developed techniques to facilitate the research:
- A method of measuring entire small streams error-free.
- Fixture technology to electrically connect easy and cheap loose chips without first string to tie. Therefore, we use the very precise 3D printer from Fablab Enschede.
- Desktop measurement setup to test loose chips before and after modificatie.
Through our creative approach, KITT Engineering resolved in a short time a number of difficult problems that threatened to delay the investigation. Through our participation in this project, we provide with our expertise an important contribution to fundamental research for lab on a chip systems in general. In the near future, the minature-lab can send, the measured values of substances in our body even directly to a doctor. Twente University is working hard on various applications for lab-on-a-chip. This has already led to a fertility test for men and a chip that can help control medication for manic depressive people. It is also working on a nanopill that can detect cancer.
The most famous application however is the device that diabetics can use measuring their blood glucose levels themselves. The disadvantage of this method is that you still have to prick for a drop of blood.
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