In 2017, a collaboration between the Walsh group (Engineering Science) and Cook group (Sir William Dunn School of Pathology) set out to develop a technology that uses fluids as building blocks. The core idea behind ‘freestyle fluidics’ is that solid walls used to confine liquids in the macroworld can be replaced in the microworld by fluid ones.

The group’s most recent paper Jet-printing microfluidic devices on demand introduces a transformative way to create complex circuits for biomedical research. Jet-printing makes possible the fabrication of microfluidic devices in minutes, almost as quickly as the circuit pattern can be drawn on paper, using only materials and apparatus commonly found in most bio-labs.

For instance, the image shown in this news article depicts the human circulatory system fabricated in a uni-well microplate in <30 min.

Similarly, the video demonstrates how a maze can be created and solved by ‘smart fluids’ in less than 20 minutes. Besides proof-of-concept applications, this work introduces several important results, relevant in biomedical research: beating the Poisson limit during cloning, a perfusion system that can continuously feed cells for over a week, and a method to sub-culture adherent cells without using any reagents.