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Thread: Labs On Chip, Huge New Market and Revolution

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    Labs On Chip, Huge New Market and Revolution

    Putting entire labs on a chip will present an almost virgin huge future market for the semi/nanotech industry. These chips will vary from single use inexpensive simple chips that do a single process to highly complex labs on a chip that do a large number of processes and calculations as a lab that now takes up a full room. Also we will see groups of Labs On Chip put together in the future to handle even the most complex tasks. This has the capability to really take advantage of the faster, better, cheaper mantra of the semi/nanotech sector. This should drive the cost of labs down dramatically while offering increased flexibility. LOCs will also increase safety by working with extremely small amounts of dangerous samples to the point the amount is so small as to be rendered harmless. LOCs will do to labs what the computer revolution did to computational processes. By driving down the cost and increasing the functionality at an ever increasing rate, this should change the world as much as the computer chip has. It will be interesting to see what companies lead the market. Below is but one small example of what is yet to come. Their design and uses will be only limited by the imagination. The opportunities for almost all companies in the semi/nanotech sector are of such a size that they will have the ability to transform not only the tech sector, but make changes so large that LOCs will change entire economies, just as the modern computer has. This will benefit equipment, EDA and fab companies and extend a growth cycle that many feel is now mature. LOCs will also benefit IOT by moving lab work closer to the edge because of lower costs and immediacy of results by being closer to the process or environment. If cost are driven down enough, you could see wide spread use of single use or multiuse labs in home, business and the field as just one of the many options made possible.

    I feel this coming revolution could maybe even soften or even eliminate the coming recession many are talking about. This is an opportunity that not only extends across many fields, but will create entirely new ones. Combined with the AI/ML revolution under way there is no telling where this will lead. Imagination and flexibility will be in demand in many, many fields and areas.


    "Lab on a chip" technology picks personalized cancer-fighting molecules out of a crowd

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    Just to be clear, that article is not a whole lab on a chip. What they have done does indeed allow a small sample to be used but in a very specific purpose, backed up by preparation in a lab and follow up in a lab. It is about as much as a lab in a chip as an ELISA pregnancy test. Very cool in pursuit of cancer immunotherapy but hardly a whole toolkit. It can probably be generalized to other medical diagnostics which can work from a soup of potential immune cells to select the clones you want. Not at all the same thing as working with poisons in tiny quantities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanj View Post
    Just to be clear, that article is not a whole lab on a chip. What they have done does indeed allow a small sample to be used but in a very specific purpose, backed up by preparation in a lab and follow up in a lab. It is about as much as a lab in a chip as an ELISA pregnancy test. Very cool in pursuit of cancer immunotherapy but hardly a whole toolkit. It can probably be generalized to other medical diagnostics which can work from a soup of potential immune cells to select the clones you want. Not at all the same thing as working with poisons in tiny quantities.
    ]

    Tanj. This is just the very beginning and is a way to extend the life of larger node fabs changing the economics of the whole industry. The processes and functions that can be shrunk down by many factors present whole new frontiers for the semi sector and should not be looked at as just semis, but nanotech. The fabs and companies that can take advantage of this and master it will have a staggering advantage over the competition, while opening up whole new opportunities for customers. Spreading costs over a larger base is just common sense. You are right many nanotechnology chips will be single purpose, but with advanced packaging the option of having many functions is wide open until they figure how to put many functions on a chip. The distinction between mems and semis will fade as they combine. Anyone who thinks the semi cycle has to end as shrink comes to an end is not looking at broader horizons.

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    No semiconductor process was shrunk in this article. The insight they used - binding immune cells to antigens in an oil drop - is one they could have had 20 years ago and it would have worked. Except that 20 years ago no one knew cancers could be selectively attacked by the immune system. They could have dreamed it up for other antigens, though. The next stage in the process, growing the clone in vitro to expand it to a useful quantity to reintroduce, was in existence back then though it was rather new.

    There are interesting nano/microfab processes being used in the lab. Things like routing fluids around a set of channels using electrostatics, combining them in small wells, moving the results, using light to measure them, scanning image chips which can watch things flow through micro channels, etc. But this particular article revolves around using an immune system target to dredge specialized cells out of a culture with millions of variants.

    Your enthusiasm is warranted, just not connected to this example.

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    Tanj, you are right, they didn't shrink the semiconductor process, but used the technology from the semi/nanotech sector to shrink the lab process by a very, very large factor over a traditional lab. This is just the beginning of a new wave of spreading current and future nanotech knowledge and processes. There are already many types of MEMS used for medical and lab processes out in the market and this is just the beginning. I feel we will see the use of micro robots that will be wirelessly powered and controlled that will do amazing things. The power and remote control have already been proven possible by a top scientist I know.

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