Bits and Pieces: 032810

An Excellent Review on Microfluidics Applications of Magnetic Particles

I have written often on various bio-analytical applications of magnetic particles and microfluidics. So, I was very excited when a visitor to my blog sent me a copy of an excellent review on Microfluidic applications of magnetic particles for biological analysis and catalysis. The best part of the review is close to 500 references covering everything from a) synthesis of magnetic nano/microparticles; b) functionalization of these particles to attach bio-molecules; c) designing microfluidic channels to manipulate magnetic particles and; d) large number of applications that combine convenience of handling magnetic particles with microfluidics.

The review discusses four important biological applications including cell handling and separation, nucleic acid processing and detection, immunoassays, and catalysis. Commercial applications including Philips’ magnetic biosensor platform and MACS (Magnetic Cell Sorting) is also covered but a notable commercial application missing from the review was the Bio-Barcode nucleic acid detection platform developed by Chad Mirkin and commercialized by Nanosphere.

Overall an excellent review coming at the right time!

Seawater Desalination and Biosensors

Continuing on the theme of microfluidics, while doing my end of the week scan of articles related to biosensor I came across an article on Direct seawater desalination by ion concentration polarization. The article describes a small to medium scale sea water purification device by using a phenomenon called “ion concentration polarization (ICP)”. Even after carefully going over the article couple of times I am still not very clear about the phenomenon but was attracted by the fact that the desalination method is a membraneless process and is implemented in a microfluidic platform. The device pushes both salts and larger particles (cells, viruses and microorganisms) into one channel and pure potable water is separated into a separate channel. While reading the article I thought maybe the same method can be used to concentrate analytes in biological samples before measuring them using biosensors. In addition since ICP separates charged species may be it can be used to further separate analytes based on charge that may be useful to fractionate samples before analysis!

Just a thought!

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