Lab on a chip: miniaturized systems for (bio)chemical analysis and synthesis

Lab on a chip: miniaturized systems for (bio)chemical analysis and synthesis
R Oosterbroek and A van den Berg (eds)
Amsterdam: Elsevier 2003 | Pp 394 | $179.00 | ISBN 0444511008
Reviewed by Michael Gross

Liquid handling on a micrometre or even nanometre scale is a relatively new concept that was first proposed and tried out just over a decade ago. In the past few years, it has made spectacular progress (see Chemistry World, January 2004, p 26), such that a number of applications have already been realised, ranging from the analytical (mass spectrometry) through to the synthetical (micro-PCR).

The volume compiled by Oosterbroek and van den Berg provides a first summary of the state of the art in this emerging technology. It is organised into four parts: the first deals with the different materials that can be used, ie hydrogels, polymers, silicon and glass, and then moves on to more application-oriented concerns, such as surface chemistry and production technologies. The second part deals with different methods of handling liquids in the microscale, while the third focuses on the special cases of bead-based applications and cell-counting systems. The final and longest section then leads us into the promised land of real-world applications, dedicating chapters to drug delivery chips, capillary electrophoresis, and mass spectrometry among other fields.

Given that the book is essentially a scientific monograph consisting of 18 review articles by experts from different institutions, it is surprisingly readable. Strict editing, the sensible organisation of each chapter with sections including a gentle introduction and a summarising conclusion, and generous illustration with instructive diagrams and black-and-white photos allow the reader to enjoy this work more thoroughly than most of its kind. The only thing missing is a general introductory chapter to the whole volume.

In fact, one could almost recommend it to the more ambitious members of the lay readership, although the exorbitant price will probably limit the audience to those who are really keen to find out about all the wonderful things you can do on the small space of a chip.