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Microfluidic large-scale integration: the evolution of design rules for biological automation.

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  • 1Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Microfluidic large-scale integration (mLSI) refers to the development of microfluidic chips with thousands of integrated micromechanical valves and control components. This technology is utilized in many areas of biology and chemistry and is a candidate to replace today's conventional automation paradigm, which consists of fluid-handling robots. We review the basic development of mLSI and then discuss design principles of mLSI to assess the capabilities and limitations of the current state of the art and to facilitate the application of mLSI to areas of biology. Many design and practical issues, including economies of scale, parallelization strategies, multiplexing, and multistep biochemical processing, are discussed. Several microfluidic components used as building blocks to create effective, complex, and highly integrated microfluidic networks are also highlighted.

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