New Microlab Concept
Original Publication Date: 2002-Aug-17
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-20
This invention refers to the concept of forming a microscopic lab integrated with integrated circuits, using Silicon technology. By using micromachining techniques, apparatus such as testing chambers, mass flow meters, interconnect pipelines, control valves, micro-pumps, mixers, pressure sensor, etc. can be provided on a chip. These apparatus can be used to conduct various of experiments including analysis, sampling, reaction, mixture. This will find applications in chemical, medical, biological, industrial areas. While on the same chip microelectronic circuits, such as timers, sensors, decoders, amplifiers, memory, micro-processor, and micro-controller circuits can be built. These circuits will provide intelligence and precision control to the experiments. Background: Fabrication of discrete micromachining parts, such as microvalve US patent 5.417,235, micropump pressure sensor, moisture sensor, etc., have been demonstrated. There is abundant literature references in this area , for example, US5417235 taught micromaching on silicon wafers and glass to make a microvalve which can be opened and closed electrostatically which can be used as a microcontroller for gas flow. US6126140 described a monolitic, bi-directional microvalve actuated electrically as liquid flow controller. Another microfabricated fluidic device based on LIGA fabrication technique is decribed in US5788468. Furthermore a silicon micro sensor adaptable to sense IR, flow, pressure, vibration and accleration is described in US5310610. A polymer-based micromachined microfluidic device is described in US6136212. A magnetohydrodynamic actuator design described in US6146103 can be used as a micromixer. A microfabricated reactor is mentioned in US5674742. These are however all related to discrete sensors and actuators and not to integrated systems. However, the concept of micro-lab has not been mentioned yet. Most of the existing experiments are still conducted in the old conventional way, such as introducing or mixing samples in a test tube.