Researchers at the University of California are producing LEGO compatible bricks to further the possibilities with microfluidics. Microfluidics is used in a variety of fields, including physics, chemistry, biochemistry and nanotechnology. It involves the control and transference of fluids in minute quantities. These bricks are designed to make microfluidics more accessible, as explained in ‘A Truly Lego-like Modular Microfluidics Platform’, a paper for the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering.
EE Times explains, ‘Because such bricks could be easily injection-moulded, the researchers hope to democratize microfluidics by providing a library of fundamental blocks which could be assembled into complex microfluidic platforms by non-experts, as easily as traditional Legos.’
Part of the impetus behind the system is to increase awareness of microfluidics among school-age students.
“The main goal of this project was to train and educate the next generation of microfluidic developers and researchers. By using actual Lego’s as the building block and assembly platform, our hope was to attract students as early as young as high schoolers to be interested in the field, learn about microfluidics and stimulate their imagination for new products for applications over a very wide range” wrote Co-author Professor Abraham Lee in an email exchange with EE Times Europe.
Lee went on to explain his hopes for the future of the LEGO-inspired work.
“Our original plan was to find a sponsor to develop parts that we can team up with local high schools to educate them about microfluidics by building Lego blocks initially to nurture their interest. We would like to speak to the Lego company if possible. The hope is that an educational tool-kit be developed and as it matures, students or other users may then use the tools to commercialize different applications.