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The challenge

The race to discover new enzymes and biomolecules

Internationally the race is on to discover new enzymes and other biomolecules for use in new products and industries. This involves screening millions of genes and enzymes and testing them against targets.

The faster new genes and enzymes can be found, the quicker new and more advanced products can be developed.

Our response

New microchip technology

We are working hard to develop a new microchip technology to address this challenge.

Our team is building fluidic microchips. These microchips create 'micro-reactors' out of tiny droplets of reaction fluids. What makes our process innovative are the special oils that contain and transport the chemical and biological processes.

We are working developing this technology with the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication (MCN) and the Australian National Fabrication Facility.

The results

Tiny droplets on plastic microchips hold the answer

We have created tiny droplets, a few microns across, that can mimic the physical and chemical conditions inside natural biological cells for controlled and compartmentalised biochemical reactions. These reactions take place in a plastic microchip a few centimeters long that can be mass produced.

They are created by sequentially merging mono-dispersed water in oil droplets. Then, inserting tiny amounts of the specific chemical and biological reagents; mixing and incubating them under real time conditions; and performing in-situ analysis using a variety of micro-fabricated optical and electronic assays.

The selected droplets are then transported at high speed to their final destinations based on the real-time analysis of results.

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