Browse Prior Art Database

Programmable Microlab Disclosure Number: IPCOM000015473D
Original Publication Date: 2002-Aug-17
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-20

Publishing Venue



Here we disclose the design of a programmable micro laboratory. Micro-lab formed by a plurality of micro-chambers can be used to conduct a variety of experiments. Micro-chambers, also known as mirco-reactors, are linked by tubes and valves to direct reactants and products flowing among the chambers. It is desirable that the design of micro-lab is flexible so that it can be used for different experiments and usages. By using a programmable concept, the interconnection of micro chambers can be configured and tailored for different experiments. It is also desirable that the programmable means can program chamber's temperature globally or individually suitable for specific chemical or biomedical reaction. The invention describes methods to achieve such programmability. (1) Temperature Programmability As shown in Fig-1, a micro-chamber consists of at least one temperature sensing unit 130A and 130B, a heating element 160 and a temperature control unit 140. Temperature control unit containing circuit logic to establish a target temperature for the microchamber. The temperature control unit can set a proper temperature within a wide temperature range. Temperature control scheme is not new, which has been implemented in the semiconductor circuit therefore can be considered as the prior art. For example, US4808009 taught the fabrication of an integrated resistance temperature sensor and resistive heater. The temperature heater can be any resistive type of heating element. The simplest heater is formed by a semiconductor resistor. Heat can be generated when a controlled amount of current passes through the heat element. The heat created by the heating element will raise the temperature of the material stored in the chamber. The sensing unit such as temperature sensor is also well known in the art such as US6046492 can be fabricated in the vicinity area of the chamber. The sensing unit senses the heat of the micro chamber and detects the temperature level. The sensing unit transmits the thermal information to the control unit so that control unit will determine whether the existing chamber temperature is still below the preset targeted temperature. If the temperature is exceeded the targeted temperature, the control unit will stop the heater. Or, otherwise the heater will continue to heat the material inside the micro chamber. It is Preferrably that the heater, sensor and controller are all located in a vicinity region of the chamber. Any delay of control signal from the control means must be restricted within an acceptable range so that the fluctuation of the chamber temperature can be minimized. In other words, if the control signal is delayed excessively, the chamber temperature can be overshoot while the heater is turning off. On the other hand, if the heater turn-on is delayed too much, the chamber temperature can be greatly undershoot. 1