Making art in the lab with microfluidic chips

Microfluidic art

For fans of all things tiny, what amounts to a new art form – or at least style – has got to appeal to you. Tiny channels are created in a microfluidic chip, which are then filled with tiny amounts of dyed liquid. And by tiny, I mean tiny. Microfluidic chips are used in the lab for certain applications of a minuscule nature, from analyzing single cells to even isolating DNA from single cells. These particular grooves are only 20 microns in width.

J Tanner Nevil at UC Berkeley developed the art along with the help of his graduate student Austin Day, simply by asking Austin to create a microfluidic chip that “looked cool”. The result of that first endeavor is here, while the Golden Gate Bridge above was created by Albert Mach.

It has always been a common practice for microfluidicists to take pictures of their results, but the actual pieces have had fleeting lifespan. It seems the ink dries up after a few days because it is permeable to air. The techniques developed in creating the piece above have actually, so far, halted this degradation.

So how will this tech end up in your hands? Look for future uses to include home kits for Shrinky Dinks 2.0. Or maybe not. Perhaps this will remain for always, art for art’s sake.

via io9