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Microfluidics-based biochips are soon expected to revolutionize clinical diagnosis, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequencing, and other laboratory procedures involving molecular biology. In contrast to continuous-flow systems that rely on permanently etched microchannels, micropumps, and microvalves, digital microfluidics offers a scalable system architecture and dynamic reconfigurability; groups of unit cells in a microfluidics array can be reconfigured to change their functionality during the concurrent execution of a set of bioassays. As more bioassays are executed concurrently on a biochip, system integration and design complexity are expected to increase dramatically. This paper presents an overview of an integrated system-level design methodology that attempts to address key issues in the synthesis, testing and reconfiguration of digital microfluidics-based biochips. Different actuation mechanisms for microfluidics-based biochips, and associated design-automation trends and challenges are also discussed. The proposed top-down design-automation approach is expected to relieve biochip users from the burden of manual optimization of bioassays, time-consuming hardware design, and costly testing and maintenance procedures, and it will facilitate the integration of fluidic components with a microelectronic component in next-generation systems-on-chips (SOCs).
Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:25 , Issue: 2 )
Date of Publication: Feb. 2006