What is Nanofluidics?

Nanofluidics is perhaps the newest research topics regarding high-performance lab-on-chip and detection at the smallest scale level. A rapid and increasing interest in this exciting field has lead to the development of new research tools for the study of the most complex systems in biology, chemistry, and nanotechnology.

Nanofluidics is typically defined as the study of fluid motion through small structures with a size in their dimensions between 1 and 100 nm. Micro and nano manipulations are the first milestones that allow researchers to introduce in a small scale investigation. The atomistic properties or mass transport take another meaning at a small volume compared with classical macroscale assumptions.

 

Why Nanofluidics?

Nanomaterials offer the opportunity to work with nanofluidics which is not a simple extension of microfluidics. The unexplored effects in these small spaces provide the opportunity of new synthesis at a nanometric level. Furthermore, the nanofluidics is a brand new field and the devices implemented for these techniques will open new branches inside the classical areas of chemistry, biochemistry, and experimental physics. Exciting studies at the level of DNA, viruses, and macromolecules are suitable due to the size constraints.

Chemyx syringe pump systems like the Fusion 4000 and Fusion 6000 provide 1.6 pL/min with a 0.5 µL syringe which ensures nanofluidic operation for different applications as micro and nanochannels in heat transfer or molecular studies with DNA.

 

Nanofluidic phenomena

Some ideas that change with a nanofluidic study is the fabrication of nanofluidic devices or nanopatterning to achieve the small size, surfaces as well may be functionalized by chemistry which makes the systems more intelligent, the final goal is to achieve nanofluidic manipulation at nanoscale level for biological structures and nanoparticles. The changes observed at the moment are the dynamic surface charge, super-high surface to volume ratios, the overlapping of the electrical double layer and the complete alteration of liquids with nonlinear transport (Xu, 2018)⁠.

It is expected that the manipulation of single nanomaterials and single biological entities may be achieved with this highly sensitive technique. A promising tool for direct study, visualization, and quantification. The new technologies with nanofluidics will provide real-time interaction, high-resolution and label-free studies as was not possible in the past.

 

The future?

New fields like single cell omics will require the development of nanofluidic tools, biology, and medicine new advances rely on that. The ability to promote large studies with single cell manipulation with the studies at an organelle level is a priority. Before that, simple and intricated nanochannels must be studied and it is important that technologies like low-cost nanolithography and nonlithography reach their best shape required to broaden the commercial products and applications of the solid-state nanofluidic devices in the future.

Eventuality, the advances with nanofluidics will improve the chemical synthesis procedures and the material fabrication in a way that the studies in the liquid phase will take to the technologies above mentioned.

 

Bibliography

Xu, Y., 2018. Nanofluidics: A New Arena for Materials Science. Adv. Mater. 30, 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1002/adma.201702419

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