Lego blocks inspire modular microfluidics

January 24, 2017 // By Julien Happich
With the idea of making complex microfluidics more readily accessible, researchers from the University of California casted their own 2x2 Lego bricks, albeit customized ones with integrated microfluidic channels.

Taking the original Lego design to make their bricks compatible with any standard Lego plate, the researchers 3D-printed molds with added channel features, so they would be able to cast their own parts using a silicone-based organic polymer ensuring water-tight channel junctions.

A single microfluidic basket weave with
2 layers of blocks. No leakages are visible.

Detailing their results in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering (JMM) in a paper titled "A Truly Lego®-like Modular Microfluidics Platform", the researchers demonstrated leakage free 3D assemblies of several Lego-like microfluidics blocks, with different blocks featuring various channel functions.

Because such bricks could be easily injection-moulded, the researchers hope to democratize microfluidics by providing a library of fundamental blocks which could be assembled into complex microfluidic platforms by non-experts, as easily as traditional Legos.