Microfluidics and nanofluidics concern the control, manipulation and analysis of liquid samples flowing or held within channels or chambers having dimensions typically ranging up to a few hundred micrometers. This allows significant reduction in sample volumes required for analyses, and also enables experiments to be carried out that take advantage of laminar flow conditions, high surface to volume ratios, low concentrations, molecular confinement, and low heat capacity. However, it also creates novel challenges in both device design and fabrication, accurate control of flow and mixing, and the sensitivity of molecular detection. Microfluidics are already beginning to appear in many diagnostics and analytical devices.
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MICROFLUIDICS AND NANOFLUIDICS
Figure: Fluid thread breakup under microfluidic confinement with applications in oil recovery and biology. [courtesy Joao Cabral]