Numerous studies on microfluidics diagnostic devices have been published in the last decade. Although the first generation of Lab-on-chip (LOC) devices was functional in 1999, some of the promises of microfluidics (integration of all functions on a chip and the commercialization of truly handheld microfluidic instruments) have yet to be fulfilled. The major challenges of LOC technology include cost–effective pumping, function integration, multiple detection, and system miniaturization. In this paper, we propose a novel and simple streaming-based LOC technology that may have potential to directly address these challenges. The phenomenon of the flow streaming is found in zero-mean velocity oscillating flows in a wide range of channel geometries. Although there is no net flow (zero-mean velocity) across the channel, a discrepancy in velocity profiles between the forward flow and backward flow causes fluid particles near the walls to drift toward one end, while fluid particles near the centerline drift to the other end. We hypothesize that the unique characteristics of flow streaming could be used: 1) to transport, mix and separate particles/molecules/bacterium/cells entrained in flows; 2) to perform multi-channel/generation micro-array sample distributions; and 3) to achieve function integrations and biomarker detections. Mechanisms of using flow streaming to achieve the various LOC functions are described. Preliminary results are presented to demonstrate the potential of this technology for LOC applications.

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