Abstract: Progress in the field of microfluidics is hindered by two broad challenges: each new application for microfluidics typically requires a whole new chip design, and the off-chip control hardware required to run these chips often consumes far more power, space, and expense than the chip itself. These challenges slow the research process and keep microfluidic devices out of important applications in resource-limited and point-of-care settings. I believe that our best hope for overcoming these challenges lies in developing a new class of generic and programmable microfluidics, and in this talk I will present an overview of my work toward this goal. By creating a microfluidic valve that behaves like a transistor, we can program the logic of device control on-chip in valve-based logical circuits, thereby reducing or eliminating off-chip control hardware. And by developing generic microfluidic tools for measuring the fundamental physical properties shared by all cells (their mass, volume, and density), we can use these measurements to gain novel insights into the biology of virtually any type of cell. Like a microprocessor in a computer, these "microfluidic processors" combine generic hardware with programmable control, moving us closer to the goal of a single microfluidic platform that supports an infinite variety of different chemical and biological applications.
Bio: Dr. William Grover earned his Ph.D. from Berkeley in 2006, and since then has been at MIT, first as a post-doctoral fellow and currently as a Research Associate. His general research focus in on the physics and chemistry of particles and flows in miniaturized devices for bioanalytics. Dr. Grover has authored ten papers in prestigious journals, including two in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, as well as two book chapters. He has two patents stemming from his pioneering work in microfluidic flow control.