Microfabricated Thermocouples for Microfluidics and Microreactors
Introduction Continued strong growth is projected within the biochip products and services marketplace worldwide. As the number and complexity of reactions and separations that are carried out using biochip products goes up, the need for precise temperature monitoring and control within the microchannels increases. The ability to directly incorporate sensitive and fast temperature measurement into a biochip device may lead to better separations and reaction control. Technology description The inventors have developed a thermocouple-based technology that measures the temperature of the fluid being processed within a microchannel. These precise temperature probes are easily incorporated in the manufacturing of microfluidic and microreactors devices. Business opportunity Biochips are primarily used for small volume sample preparation, detection, and hybridization. DNA chips have predominated to date but protein based products are gaining steadily. Biochip or microarray products are themselves expected to grow into an almost $900 million opportunity over the coming four years. Related equipment and supplies should account for an equal, if not higher, market opportunity. The ability to precisely measure the temperature of the fluids being processed in these devices, precisely and in real time, should allow for new levels of control and analysis. Stage of development The sensitivity and response of these thermocouples has been demonstrated in a microfluidic test set up. The ease of incorporation into common fabrication materials has been shown. Intellectual property position The UW has applied for patent protection on this technology.
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