Researchers can 3D print microfluidic devices with components smaller than ever before. (Credit: BYU Photo)

Researchers have demonstrated the ability to create microfluidic lab-on-a-chip devices with channels and valves smaller than ever before. Using a new 3D printing technique, the team has created chips with valves that are only 15 pm in size.

The team innovated the way that printed layers on the chip are stacked. Instead of printing all the layers uniform, a technique typically seen in traditional methods of 3D printing, they changed the thickness, order, and number of layers stacked. These small changes resulted in dramatic advantages that now allow for the chip to be manufactured at a fraction of the cost, and at a much smaller scale than before.

The team is hoping that their new development will set in motion more microfluidic research and development. Due to the lower cost it now takes to create these devices, this type of work will become more accessible to more people and will result in more discoveries and progress in the field.

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