If you’ve ever wondered how many nanoliters of a fluid are in any given container, researchers at NIST can tell you just by looking at it, well sort of.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology has developed an optical system that accurately measures the flow of nanoliters, or 10 billionths of a liter, per minute.
The NIST team reports that at that rate, it would take a liter bottle of water about 190 years to drain.
With the growth of the microfluidics field, the ability to precisely measuring and controlling minuscule flow rates is critically important. For example, in biotechnology studies, researchers are monitoring the flow of nutrients to cells, while some cancer treatments require drugs to be dispensed in nanoliters into the blood.
Greg Cooksey, one of the NIST researchers says, “The measurement method provides several potential opportunities for spinoff technologies and may enable manufacturers of microfluidic devices to develop a new generation of flow sensors.”