The purpose of this chapter is threefold: introducing microfluidics to the general audience, describing in detail the polymerase chain reaction (a technique used for DNA amplification), and reviewing the state-of-the-art methods regarding the detection of pathogens by on-chip PCR. The first section gives a brief introduction to the field of microfluidics. Although the microfluidic technologies have been developed substantially since 1990, their existence and applications are still unknown from the general public. The history and the applications of miniaturized total analysis systems (μTAS) are therefore summarized in the first section (Microfluidics). Secondly, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is described in detail. The second section (DNA amplification) therefore covers a brief history of DNA and the applications, requirements, and processes of PCR. As a conclusion of this section, the different techniques available to perform PCR (namely conventional PCR, real-time PCR and on-chip PCR) are compared. Lastly a mini-review presents the state-of-the-art in terms of detection of pathogens by on-chip PCR. The polymerase chain reaction is becoming recognized by official administrations as an acceptable method for the detection of pathogens. It is therefore no surprise that the microfluidic community is also developing devices to support this transition. The last section (Minireview) provides a snapshot of the most exquisite techniques available for the on-chip detection and analysis of pathogens.


Microfluidic Device Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer Conventional Polymerase Chain Reaction Internal Amplification Control Total Analysis System 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pierre-Alain Auroux
    • 1
  1. 1.National Institute for Standards and TechnologyEEEL, Semiconductor Electronics DivisionGaithersburgUSA

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