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Toys Science

Microfluidic Chips Made With Shrinky Dinks 149

Posted by kdawson
from the improvising-science dept.
SoyChemist writes "When she started her job as a new professor at UC Merced, Michelle Khine was stuck without a clean room or semiconductor fabrication equipment, so she went MacGyver and started making Lab-on-a-Chip devices in her kitchen with Shrinky Dinks, a laser printer, and a toaster oven. She would print a negative image of the channels onto the polystyrene sheets and then shrink them with heat. The miniaturized pattern served as a perfect mold for forming rounded, narrow channels in PDMS — a clear, synthetic rubber."
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Microfluidic Chips Made With Shrinky Dinks

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  • Sometimes (Score:4, Funny)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:41PM (#21576973)
    I get a Shrinky Dink when I go swimming :-(
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gt_mattex (1016103)
      This gets modded funny? This professor, who also happens to be a woman, makes semi-conductors in her kitchen and all she gets is penis jokes? What she did was brilliant. How about a little appreciation of her ingenuity. I can feel the karma burn already.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:01PM (#21577319)
        Oh come on... it's first post. At least it wasn't a soviet russia joke or something about women professor overlords.

        Anyone who knows anything about /. knows the insightful posts always come in the 3-5 position... they take longer.

        Women can laugh at penis jokes too, ya know.

        Misogyny it aint.
      • by downhole (831621)

        This professor, who also happens to be a woman, makes semi-conductors in her kitchen and all she gets is penis jokes?

        You must be new here.

      • by everphilski (877346) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:12PM (#21577473) Journal
        This professor, who also happens to be a woman,

        Who cares if she is a man or a woman? She is a person, like the rest of us.

        makes semi-conductors in her kitchen and all she gets is penis jokes?

        And she didn't make semiconductors, she made microfluidic devices. Yes, she is brilliant, you apparently are not.
      • by rubycodez (864176) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:15PM (#21577513)
        ya think clit jokes would be more appropriate?
      • You're not real clear on the concept of "funny", are you?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by drcagn (715012)
        PICS????? plz
    • like a frightened turtle...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      See, even scientist women should stay in the kitchen!
  • by User 956 (568564) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:41PM (#21576975) Homepage
    When she started her job as a new professor at UC Merced, Michelle Khine was stuck without a clean room or semiconductor fabrication equipment

    I hate when that happens.
  • by Rooked_One (591287) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:42PM (#21576995) Journal
    **WACK WACK WACK**

    *obligitory family guy joke*
  • by prakslash (681585) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:58PM (#21577263)
    Some unknown facts about MacGyver:

    Fact: On the 1st day, God created MACGYVER. On the 2nd day, God created knives and paperclips. On the 3rd day.. MACGYVER created everything else.

    Fact: MACGYVER can invent 1000 different things using a ball of yarn and a pair of sunglasses. 999 of these things can kill a man. The remaining thing can kill a planet.

    Fact: MACGYVER invented genocide using only blankets and smallpox.

    Fact: The only thing that MACGYVER cannot produce with a soda can and an extension cord... is mercy.

    Fact:One time, MACGYVER built a time machine out of an old refrigerator and a pocketwatch, and used it to travel to the ancient paradise of Atlantis. However, while there, he went on a drunken bender with with a magnifying glass and a book of matches. This area is now known as the Sahara.

    Fact: Chuck Norris is an android built by MACGYVER in an attempt to find a worthy opponent.

    Fact: Some crazy people claim that MACGYVER was just a TV character, played by Richard Dean Anderson. In actuality, Richard Dean Anderson was played by MACGYVER, and the show was a documentary, the events of which REALLY HAPPENED.

    And the final Fact: Necessity is the mother of invention but... MACGYVER is the father.

    • MACGYVER invented that list?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by buddhahat (410161)
      +5 Informative? Really?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        MacGyver can also make his own mod points with a series of tubes, tropical-fruit Bubble-Yum and a Mountain Dew bottle.

        ...so yes, +5 informative.
        • by davidsyes (765062)
          MacGyver doesn't SLEEP... He INVENTS....

          (But, I wonder if he can invent an Anti-Chuck-Norris roundhouse kick...)
    • Obligatory (Score:2, Funny)

      by Cryacin (657549)
      "Don't thank me... Thank the moon's gravitational pull..."
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Then there was that guy who was dating a very religious girl who would only have sex if it was to have children. He was desperate and finally caved in and agreed to have unprotected sex. Afterwards she asked: "What are we going to call him?". He triumphantly pulled out the condom he had slipped on without her noticing and said: "If he can get out of here, MacGyver".
    • by bobdotorg (598873)
      Fact: On the 1st day, God created MACGYVER. On the 2nd day, God created knives and paperclips. On the 3rd day.. MACGYVER created everything else.

      Fact: On the fourth day, MACGYVER was making way too much noise and promptly got his ass kicked by Chuck Norris.
  • Shit, these headlines just write themselves.
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:09PM (#21577451) Journal
    covered in greygoo created in someone's kitchen with toys from Matel?
    • covered in greygoo created in someone's kitchen with toys from Matel?

      Somehow that seems strangely appropriate...

      Lets pull out the ol' doomsday checklist and see.
      Invocation of advanced science... nanotech, check
      Involvment of large corporation... I think Matel counts, check
      Occurs on convenient round base ten number (or base 5 for the mayan, myst and discordian fans)... well, doesn't say, so that's kind of a wash
      Only thing I don't see how to work in is the kitchen angle.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Penguinisto (415985)

        Only thing I don't see how to work in is the kitchen angle.

        Oh, that's easy: Bobby Flay will use it in an Iron Chef America episode (something with Ancho peppers is a good bet), where it will jump up and go on an apeshit rampage after a food critic downs it ("too salty").

        /P

        • Oh, that's easy: Bobby Flay will use it in an Iron Chef America episode (something with Ancho peppers is a good bet), where it will jump up and go on an apeshit rampage after a food critic downs it ("too salty").

          Either that or Morimoto will feed it into an icecream maker along with some other decidedly un-icecream type food (such as anchovies, or maybe asparagus).
    • by Kingrames (858416)
      Good god, man. You know you shouldn't make grey goo with lead paint.

      Think of the children!
  • by gordgekko (574109) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:15PM (#21577511) Homepage
    I'm not using microfluidic chips until they're immune to gravimetric distortions.
    • I'm not using microfluidic chips until they're immune to gravimetric distortions.

      No problem: Red Food Coloring (#2) and a ballpoint pen should do it (see also the MacGyver list further up).

      /P

    • by iluvcapra (782887) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @06:45PM (#21578793)

      The gravimetric distortions are only a problem if you miss the annual baryon sweeps. The real concern is chromometric distortions and temporal wakes.

      And MacGuyver..

  • Funding? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Does this mean that she enjoys watching her lab budget shrink?
  • this is the sort of thing that deserves patenting...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Obfuscant (592200)
      I suspect that Shrinky Dinks are already patented.

      What I want to know, is if Shrinky Dinks shrink when heated, why isn't fusing the toner to the Dink making it shrink? I mean, if you use the wrong transparency film in a laser printer, it MELTS and makes a horrible mess. Why aren't the Dinkys Shrinky?

      • by DrYak (748999) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @07:05PM (#21579019) Homepage

        I suspect that Shrinky Dinks are already patented.


        From what I've learned (yes they now teach patents in some research class here around), the application of a process is included in the patent application. If you invent a new application of an ancient method you could try to apply for a new patent (...now we found you can also do that with it...), as long as nobody has published about this new usage.

        In this cases : Sorry, too late ! Prof. Khine has already published the paper, so there's no way Shrinky Dink's creator could patent a new use of their product.

        Beside, as pointed out by other /.ers, the point of this method is to enable labs who can't afford the real -fluidic chip, to quickly homebrew their own using cheap materials (PDMS is also a material much loved in the rapid prototyping communities). Patenting (and thus putting a control on who can use this method and who can't) will prevent other small labs using it to quickly produce chips. It would be the exact kind of patent that stifles progress and creativity instead of encouraging them.
        Beside a patent is only useful if you want to sell your method to the industry. In this case the industry already has photo lithography, which isn't expensive for them given their production scales, so they don't really need the "kitchen"-made technique.

        What I want to know, is if Shrinky Dinks shrink when heated, why isn't fusing the toner to the Dink making it shrink? I mean, if you use the wrong transparency film in a laser printer, it MELTS and makes a horrible mess. Why aren't the Dinkys Shrinky?


        Probably for the same reason the not-wrong transparency film don't melt :
        Shrinky dinks probably happen to tolerate higher thermal energy before starting to change shape.
        I mean they are supposed to be cooked in an oven in order to shrink. Not just somewhat heated.
        According to the paper, they cooked the plastic sheets for 5min at 163C in the ovens, in order to achieve the desired shrinking. Probably the couple of seconds the sheets spends in contact with the laser drum don't transfer enough thermal energy (besides, this article [fsnet.co.uk] has also measured a lower temperature of 145 C, thus making the total heat exchange even lower inside the printer).

        But probably, if there's a paper jam (or a plastic jam in this case) and the plastic sheets stay for several minutes against the heated drum, then probably you'll have to remove the jam using a magnifying glass and tweezers.
    • by cduffy (652)
      The kind of folks who need to resort to this kind of approach are the same folks who can't afford a patent license -- so in the interest of research getting done, I certainly hope that it isn't.
  • by JohnnyGTO (102952) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:29PM (#21577773) Homepage
    that used fine grooved plastic(?) to combine methenol and vegetable oil to make pure bio diesel with out all the messy steps. I wonder if shrinky dinks would work to produce those same grooves?
    • I am not sure about the methanol, but if I remember the wikipedia article, you can use a vegetable oil ( like canola) and lye to yank the organic acid off the oil. What you are left with is a fuel ( an ester) that burns clean, and lots and lots of glycerol.

      Apparently, the glycerol can be used to make urethane foam, for insulation - I still don't quite know how that is supposed to work.

      The reactor that you remember I think I saw on slashdot; by using a huge number of capillary tubes, the reaction area wa

      • by JohnnyGTO (102952)
        If I read the article correctly the shrinky dink is actually used as a master to mold copies. If thats so then perhaps there would be a way to make those large number of capillary tubes?
        • You read correctly; the article mentions a glass slide that you fuse the molded part onto. But wait! There's more!

          You can make fluidic valves to control the mixing properties, which means you have a chemical reaction vessel with the possibility of feedback control. This opens up whole new avenues of possible research.

          Since the system has two parts, you could make electrical circuits on the glass slide, perhaps by using tin oxide, a transparent conductor. I recollect an article, way back when, where a so

  • Annealing with an EZ-Bake oven, followed by powder coating using perfume atomizers!
  • by SoapDish (971052) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:34PM (#21577849)
    A former professor of mine works with lab on a chip stuff. She really stressed the point that computer and mathematical modelling is extremely important in engineering, particularly her research, because microfluidic chips are extremely expensive. I can't remember the exact number, but it was somewhere above $1000/chip.

    Sure, the name "shrinky dinks" is funny, but being able to make these lab-on-a-chips affordably is a big deal.
    • Is that expensive in that the price is raw product and productions costs? Or is it expensive like a drug is expensive - the first pill cost £2bn in R&D and the second one is 10p - but they of course need to recoup the upfront costs?
      • by SoapDish (971052)
        It's prototyping costs. Like, we want to test little changes in the design, so a brand new chip has to be made. It might save a lot when mass produced, but I don't have any idea what those figures are. Still, if researching them is cheaper, it will at least speed up the R&D process.
  • Now, who's the first to construct a DIY microfluidic NAND gate (or a more complex computation unit, such as a half or full adder) using the method described? Has somebody done so?
  • Stupid Toy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gooman (709147) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:53PM (#21578121) Journal
    This is pretty neat.

    As a kid I never understood the appeal of the Shrinky Dink as a toy. You draw on some plastic and then put it in the oven and it comes out smaller. Big whoop. Why not just draw it smaller to begin with.

    But this is actually a functional (and cool technology) use/hack for the toy.

    I tip my hat.

    • by wurp (51446)
      Big whoop because you are likely to make errors of about the same size regardless of how big you draw something, and when you shrink it the errors shrink too. It creates a small image that looks almost error free, even if you're fairly crappy at drawing.

      I agree it's not that cool of a toy, but it does actually do something (somewhat) interesting.
  • by ElboRuum (946542) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:53PM (#21578131)
    Another of her colleagues managed to come up with a workable Supersymmetry model using a Pet Rock, a Toss Across, and a Slinky.
  • I have an idea and can't afford a patent so I'm bugging manufacturers with my idea to sell it to them. First they sign the agreement. :) Why should they get all the money?
  • Very cool article (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bentfork (92199) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @06:01PM (#21578225)
    Micro machining with house hold items is a quite impressive feat. I can imagine building some awesome circuits with this and a conductive pen



    However this image:

    http://www.rsc.org/ej/LC/2008/b711622e/b711622e-f4.gif [rsc.org]


    Is quite impressive. It is a excellent demonstration of what you can build with these channels. Quite cool.


    Now where can I find a hand-held corona discharger?

    • by Alioth (221270)
      You don't need to do anything fancy - I can make PCBs at home with 7/7 design rules (7mil/7mil - in metric, just under 0.2mm traces and 0.2mm spaces between traces) using a laser printer, cheap "inkjet photo paper", and a clothes iron to iron the circuit design onto copper clad board, then etch with ferric chloride.

      You can do surface mount reflow soldering (i.e. the same process an electronics factory uses to solder a PCB) with a toaster oven or even just an electric hotplate.
  • by Spittoon (64395) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @06:22PM (#21578519) Homepage
    I can't explain it; this story made my day. Dupe or no dupe. Very cool.

    I know nothing about this area of science, but holy cow! This simple technique already seems to accomplish so much, and to be so useful. Think what it will be when they've created advanced inks and molding materials to create smoother "walls" and which let you control the "shrink" factor more precisely! Imagine specially designed printers to enable chip printing-- even if it's just a more precise tray to hold the shrinky dink media.

    This is terribly exciting. It puts microfluidic experimentation within the reach of any hobbyist, college class, or high school! Great breakthroughs will come of this, I just know it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Lab on a Chip [rsc.org]
  • I was just reading the September issue of ACM Communications the other night and it covers, among other things, micro and nanofluidics. Michelle Khine has taken simple things and applied them to a complex problem. I salute you Michelle. Now, the next step might to be to see if the ink can be charged to create ion flow controls. But now I am stepping into areas I know little of (see my sig)
  • I read the title of the article, and thought "someone is going to tag this as 'shrinkydinks'". Sure enough, there it is.

    Oh Slashdot, I can read you like a book.
  • The closest I could get was a scaled up version using packaging tape. Just a simple T-junction, but it was cheap. Pretty easy to set up, I used a tupperware lid with a layer of packaging tape cut with channels and covered by another layer. You could see the diffusion between chocolate milk and orange juice fairly clearly. Anyone else ever have success with one of these things or am I the only one to try?
  • This gave me a brilliant idea! As many people cannot afford a genuine Segwey and are still to fat to actually walk for themselves, why not invent a budget Segwey that utilizes some good old school toy tech. Think of the great money savings that could be realized by tapping into the most trip proof nature of the Weeble in leu of expensive microprocessor controlled gyroscopes and such. I mean, the ride might be a bit wobbly, but it won't fall down. And in the spirit of childhoodiness, I would give the pro
  • whitesides (i think) was the first guy to go cheap by printing masks with consumer level printers, and making cheap masters for pdms molds
    perhaps someone else can give a good summary and comparision
  • In the article, they note that rapid prototyping is simpler, more usefull and general tool, but that rapid prototyping machines cause upward of 50K
    www.desktopfactory.com

    these 3D printers - printers that print a layer of plastic, then another layer to make a solid 3 dimensional object - are just like other super high vol hardware: if it costs 5K this year, you will get 2X the performance for half the price next year - in 15 years, kids will come home from school and complain that there is no resin for the 3D
    • I'm student teaching at a school in Ohio called Toledo Technology Academy right now. It's a public high school.

      One of the kids made me a shuriken and a 3D tiger head (their logo) on one of these machines. Normally, they use it along with their CAD classes, though, not just to make something cool for the geeky English teacher who thinks the printer is cool as hell.

      So, in some schools, the kids are already complaining when they run out of resin :).
  • This kind of process seems perfectly suited to some kind of open source hardware design.

    I wish I knew more about microfluidics. Does anyone know of some good examples of what microfluidic chips could be used for? I know they use them to save valuable reagents, or to create a more controlled environment for experiements, but how about some day to day applications?

    I recall hearing a story on the radio recently about using microfluidic chips for detecting tuberculosis in the field. Essentially the chips cou
  • ....she should get an award or something. That's a fantastic synthesis of practical, proven tech to make something even MORE high tech (and expensive).

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