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The Laboratory in the News

Fostering Innovative Science and Technology
Commentary by Rokaya Al-Ayat

Simulation-Aided Design of Microfluidic Devices
Researchers now have a complete, three-dimensional numerical model that mimics the manipulation of virtual macromolecules, beads, and other materials inside tiny microfluidic devices.

Small Science Gets to the Heart of Matter
Livermore scientists are learning how materials organize themselves—atom by atom and molecule by molecule—and why a particular organization matters.

Technology to Help Diabetics
A device that continuously monitors blood glucose will make it easier for diabetics to manage their disease.

Patents and Awards


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  • Simulation-Aided Design of microfluidic Devices
  • (pdf file, 2MB)
    Microfluidic devices are chip-based systems used for processing and analyzing fluids and their constituents. Fabricated with the same lithographic techniques used for microelectronics, the devices integrate sensors, actuators, and other electromechanical components to move fluids through a maze of microscopic channels and chambers. A Lawrence Livermore team is developing a complex, three-dimensional simulation capability to help guide the design of microfluidic devices. The team’s computer code provides, for the first time, an accurate representation of the behavior of suspended particles, especially polystyrene beads and biological macromolecules, as they travel inside a microfluidic device. The simulation capability incorporates channel complexities and such parameters as fluid flow rates, particle interactions, and external forces. The team is working for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the advanced research arm of the Department of Defense. DARPA is developing microfluidic devices called BioFlips (for BioFluidic Chips) for detecting biological macromolecules and microbes if used in biowarfare.

  • Small Science Gets to the Heart of Matter
  • (pdf file, 3.6MB)
    Working on almost the smallest possible scale, Livermore scientists are examining how materials are organized on surfaces and are conducting their examinations on an atom-by-atom and molecule-by-molecule basis. They are learning how the organization affects the materials’ properties. At this nanometer scale, the scientists need to use only the most powerful imaging tools. Thus, they are making the atomic force microscope more sensitive and developing new imaging methods, including the confocal microscope and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy. The goal for these imaging tools is to identify single molecules. The scientists are also working with molecular templates that can be used to develop sensors to detect biological and chemical warfare agents, to enhance protein crystallography, and to test corrosion resistance. Other projects are mimicking the natural growth of calcium-based structures.

  • Technology to Help Diabetics
  • (pdf file, 1MB)
    A device that continuously monitors blood glucose will make it easier for diabetics to manage their disease.

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    UCRL-52000-01-12 | January 25, 2001