Teaching Jell-O Microfluidics

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One of the tastiest things I can think of is Jell-O—and just in time to celebrate the Second Annual Jell-O Mold Competition, comes a bit of research from the ACS journal, Analytical Chemistry.

The article, "Using Inexpensive Jell-O Chips for Hands-On Microfluidics Education1," presents an interesting model of microfluidic devices using, you guessed it, Jell-O.

The idea is to get anyone (probably mostly Jell-O enthusiasts) really excited about microfluidics. Getting students to design and build a microfluidic device could spark an immense interest in a technology that could one day be as commonplace as cellphones.

This figure at right shows the authors' scheme for "producing Jell-O chips using soft lithography," whose hopes are they certain key concepts—including photolithography, crosslinking density, photopolymerization, and rapid prototyping—will be easily conveyed to students of all levels. The article runs through a few different chip designs, including one that demonstrates pressure-driven flow, another that teaches principles of dimensionless numbers, and finally a "Jell-O chip" that can be used for teaching the fundamentals of pH sensing and parallelization,

This isn't explicitly mentioned, but I'm hoping the authors take into account how hungry the students are before proceeding with additional lessons... at the end of the day, there might not be enough Jell-O to go around.


1Yang, C., Ouellet, E., & Lagally, E. (2010). Using Inexpensive Jell-O Chips for Hands-On Microfluidics Education Analytical Chemistry DOI: 10.1021/ac902926x

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