Albert FolchJun 15, 2022
Hidden in Plain Sight
The History, Science, and Engineering of Microfluidic Technology
MIT Press 2022
Hidden from view, microfluidics underlies a variety of devices that are essential to our lives, from inkjet printers to glucometers for the monitoring of diabetes. Microfluidics--which refers to the technology of miniature fluidic devices and the study of fluids at submillimeter levels--is invisible to most of us because it is hidden beneath ingenious user interfaces. In this book, Albert Folch, a leading researcher in microfluidics, describes the development and use of key microfluidic devices. He explains not only the technology but also the efforts, teams, places, and circumstances that enabled these inventions.
Folch reports, for example, that the inkjet printer was one of the first microfluidic devices invented, and traces its roots back to nineteenth-century discoveries in the behavior of fluid jets. He also describes how rapid speed microfluidic DNA sequencers have enabled the sequencing of animal, plant, and microbial species genomes; organs on chips facilitate direct tests of drugs on human tissue, leapfrogging over the usual stage of animal testing; at-home pregnancy tests are based on clever microfluidic principles; microfluidics can be used to detect cancer cells in the early stages of metastasis; and the same technology that shoots droplets of ink on paper in inkjet printers enables 3D printers to dispense layers of polymers.
In Hidden in Plain Sight: The History, Science, and Engineering of Microfluidic Technology (MIT Press, 2022), Folch tells the stories behind these devices in an engaging style, accessible to nonspecialists. More than 100 color illustrations show readers amazing images of microfluids under the microscope.
Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland.