Dolomite has announced that its microfluidic technology has been key to the development of Syrris’s new range of flow chemistry technology, enabling automated laboratory equipment company Syrris to develop a new and powerful powerful range of flow reactors. As a part of a joint development project, Dolomite has designed and manufactured a range of microfluidic flow reactor modules that enable the fast and accurate reaction of chemicals for test and analysis. It is anticipated that this technology will have a significant impact on companies involved in such areas as drug discovery, DNA analysis and forensics, by greatly accelerating their research.
Dolomite is a leader in Microfluidics, also known as ‘lab on a chip’. This is an exciting new field of science and engineering that enables very small-scale fluid control and analysis, allowing instrument manufacturers to develop smaller, more cost-effective and more powerful systems. With lab-on-a-chip technology, entire complex chemical management and analysis systems are created in a microfluidic chip and interfaced with, for example, electronic and optical detection systems.
“Flow chemistry reactions often happen much faster than reactions in a vessel, as a result of being able to run at elevated temperature,” said Philip Homewood, Engineering Manager at Dolomite. “It is also possible to improve product yield because the reaction conditions in a flow reactor are closer to ideal conditions in terms of temperature and input reagent concentration. This technology is bringing a lot of important new benefits to the life science community and is having a major influence on the future of scientific instrument design and modern chemistry.”
UK company Syrris specialises in flow reactors. Their market-leading product AFRICA, a modular system for reaction optimisation, reduces the time taken to develop, synthesize, screen and review a chemical entity. In laboratories around the world the Africa system is speeding up the drug discovery process.
“The microfluidic reactor chips from Dolomite have been critical to the success of the Africa system,” said Mark Gilligan, Managing Director of Syrris. “Mixing in a batch reactor is quite random whereas in a microfluidic flow reactor it is far more uniform. For some processes like nano-particle manufacturing and crystallisation processes, the nano-particles or crystals end up being much more uniform in comparison to an equivalent batch reactor process. This important benefit along with the speed and accuracy of this technology is enabling us to help scientists accelerate research and achieve more accurate results.”
For the Syrris Project Dolomite have developed six reactor chips in total with three reactor volumes – 62.5 microlitre, 250 microlitre and 1000 microlitre – and two input options: 2-input and 3-input. The chips are also used in Syrris’s FRX flow reactor products.
The challenges in the design and manufacture of the reactor chips included getting a sufficient reaction volume. Most chips are less that 100microlitres in volume. To achieve 250 microlitres and 1000 microlitres, Dolomite had to etch to depths of up to 125-250 microns on both glass surfaces. Another challenge was the design of the mixing junction to make sure the diffusional mixing was fast enough. This was achieved by having a narrow channel after the mixing junction to keep the diffusion distance low. Also before the mixing junction one of the input streams was split onto two streams and combined either side of the other input stream. The effect is that the diffusion distance is reduced by a factor of two. This reduces diffusional mixing time by a factor of four. Although each chip is only 28x90mm in size it has between 1.8 – 2.5m of reaction channel.
Established in 2005 as the world’s first microfluidic application centre, Dolomite is focussed on working with customers to turn their concepts for microfluidic applications into reality. With an in-depth understanding of chemistry and the life sciences, expertise in microfabrication and microfluidics, together with instrument design and development capabilities, Dolomite is enabling some of the world’s top providers in fields as diverse as environmental monitoring, drug discovery and forensic science to deliver microfluidic systems to the market place.
Syrris Ltd is a market leader in the field of microreactors and productivity improvement for R&D chemistry. Syrris specialises in flow reactors, including the AFRICA, a modular system for reaction optimisation that will ultimately reduce the time taken to develop, synthesize, screen and review a chemical entity, thus vastly speeding up the drug discovery process.