By geometrically constraining fluids into the sub-millimeter scale, microfluidics offers a physical environment largely different from the macroscopic world, as a result of the significantly enhanced surface effects. This environment is characterized by laminar flow and inertial particle behavior, short diffusion distance, and largely enhanced heat exchange. The recent two decades have witnessed the rapid advances of microfluidic technologies in various fields such as biotechnology; analytical science; and diagnostics; as well as physical, chemical, and biological research. On the other hand, one additional field is still emerging. With the advances in nanomaterial and soft matter research, there have been some reports of the advantages discovered during attempts to synthesize these materials on microfluidic chips. As the formation of nanomaterials and soft matters is sensitive to the environment where the building blocks are fed, the unique physical environment of microfluidics and the effectiveness in coupling with other force fields open up a lot of possibilities to form new products as compared to conventional bulk synthesis. This Perspective summarizes the recent progress in producing novel functional materials using microfluidics, such as generating particles with narrow and controlled size distribution, structured hybrid materials, and particles with new structures, completing reactions with a quicker rate and new reaction routes and enabling more effective and efficient control on reactions. Finally, the trend of future development in this field is also discussed.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Biomedical Engineering
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry