Physics and applications of microfluidics in biology

Annu Rev Biomed Eng. 2002;4:261-86. doi: 10.1146/annurev.bioeng.4.112601.125916. Epub 2002 Mar 22.


Fluid flow at the microscale exhibits unique phenomena that can be leveraged to fabricate devices and components capable of performing functions useful for biological studies. The physics of importance to microfluidics are reviewed. Common methods of fabricating microfluidic devices and systems are described. Components, including valves, mixers, and pumps, capable of controlling fluid flow by utilizing the physics of the microscale are presented. Techniques for sensing flow characteristics are described and examples of devices and systems that perform bioanalysis are presented. The focus of this review is microscale phenomena and the use of the physics of the scale to create devices and systems that provide functionality useful to the life sciences.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biosensing Techniques / instrumentation
  • Biosensing Techniques / methods
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary / instrumentation
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary / methods
  • Equipment Design / methods
  • Immunoassay / instrumentation
  • Immunoassay / methods
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Microchemistry / methods*
  • Miniaturization / instrumentation*
  • Miniaturization / methods*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Photography / instrumentation
  • Photography / methods
  • Rheology / instrumentation
  • Rheology / methods*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / instrumentation
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods


  • Macromolecular Substances