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UC Engineers Find Way to Build Durable Biochips from Plastic
Date: September 24, 2000
By: Chris Curran
Phone: (513) 556-1806
Photos by: Dottie Stover
Archive: Research News

Cincinnati -- Chong Ahn, an associate professor in the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering, has developed a method for using MEMS technology (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) to build plastic microchips suitable for medical and other biological applications.

image of Chong Ahn

Ahn will present a paper summarizing his findings at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24 during "BioMEMS and Biomedical Nanotechnology World 2000" in Columbus, Ohio. The paper is "Novel Structually Programmable Microfluidic Systems (sPROMs) Technology for Plastic-based Disposable Smart Microchips."

During his talk, Ahn will explain how smart plastic biochips can be designed with no moving parts using structurally programmable systems (sPROMs). This makes the chips more durable, "smart," and inexpensive enough to build disposable smart biochips.

Applications include blood testing, environmental monitoring, and detection of biochemical warfare agents. "Recently, there has been a large demand for the development of disposable 'smart' biochips," said Ahn. Designing and building the chips has been difficult, because smart biochips usually require complicated controls over the movement of fluids.

Ahn and others at UC recently tested a novel system using sPROMs technology. Their results indicate a smart biochip based on plastic can be built which has no moving parts, yet still provides considerable control. The key is creating differences in pressure through the chip which can regulate the flow of fluid through various passive valves and conduits. Details on the design and fabrication of the plastic biochips will be presented during the Columbus conference.

Recent Funding: Ahn recently received a $3 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to support research in UC's Microsystems and BioMEMS Lab.

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