Algorithms developed by a range of research groups aim to automate microfluidic lab-on-chip technologies that perform chemical identification and medical tests by shuffling nanoliters of samples and reagents around micron-sized channels. Besides shortening the time required to analyze such small sample sizes, automation enables many more lab tests to be performed on chip.
The initial algorithms were hand-crafted for various lab-on-chip prototypes. But according to presentations at the International Symposium on Physical Design (ISPD), researchers have begun adapting EDA techniques to automate the design and operation of microfluidic labs-on-chip.
"We have automated place-and-route algorithms for microfluidic chips that afford a tenfold reduction in design time over hand-tuned place and route," Tamal Mukherjee, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh), said in his ISPD presentation.
Besides Carnegie Mellon, research institutions working on microfluidic labs-on-chip—and devising computer-aided techniques to design them—include Duke University, National Taiwan University (Taipei), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL, Kentucky), Penn State University (Harrisburg), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, N.Y.), the University of Alberta (Canada), the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Texas (Austin).
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