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New Open-Source Website Features Blueprints for Lab-on-a-Chip Devices

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has designed a new open-source website. This website is a remarkable resource for inventors, engineers, and students — to name a few. The concept is simple: a site that allows for the sharing of free designs for lab-on-a-chip devices. And it could change the way information in the field of microfluidics is being shared.

Microfluidics is the field of study covering the behavior and manipulation of fluids on a microscopic scale. Metafluidics.org will serve as a free repository of information on this subject, tackling it from a diverse set of angles and providing new insights into the field. But it’s more than just a great way to get and share information, however; it’s also shaping up to be a new social media site.

The site will allow, and indeed encourage, users to upload designs of their own making. They can also comment on and share design files uploaded by others. Users will even be able to suggest improvements or new features for designs that have already been shared. It will be a unique and refreshing open-source exchange of exciting new ideas. All of the designs will come with a list of materials used to fabricate the chips, allowing people to replicate and improve upon them. It’s a bold plan, with potentially huge payoff.

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“There’s a familiar experience for people in microfluidics: You see a really amazing paper that shows you a design, but if you want to try to copy the design, the actual design files that are a critical part of reproducing or remixing a device are not shared in any systematic way. As a result, researchers around the world are in parallel reinventing the wheel. It’s one of the reasons why open-source in general is a very powerful set of principles. It can really accelerate the diffusion of technology.”

David S. Kong, director of MT Media Lab's new Community Biotechnology Initiative

The creators of the website hope this will be a dramatic change from the traditional methods of sharing ideas and innovations in the field. If the site proves successful, it could pave the way for other such websites where scientists and engineer could share and collaborate on different projects.

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