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Lab Chip. 2008 Jun;8(6):860-4. doi: 10.1039/b717423c. Epub 2008 Apr 8.

Managing evaporation for more robust microscale assays. Part 2. Characterization of convection and diffusion for cell biology.

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MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, Dpt of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, NZ.


Cell based microassays allow the screening of a multitude of culture conditions in parallel, which can be used for various applications from drug screening to fundamental cell biology research. Tubeless microfluidic devices based on passive pumping are a step towards accessible high throughput microassays, however they are vulnerable to evaporation. In addition to volume loss, evaporation can lead to the generation of small flows. Here, we focus on issues of convection and diffusion for cell culture in microchannels and particularly the transport of soluble factors secreted by cells. We find that even for humidity levels as high as 95%, convection in a passive pumping channel can significantly alter distributions of these factors and that appropriate system design can prevent convection.

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