Summer Intern Arjun Garapaty Designs Microfluidic Device
Arjun Garapaty thinks big. It wasn’t that long ago that he earned a perfect score on his ACT test… as a sophomore in high school. Now a college sophomore at University of California, Berkley majoring in Chemical Biology, Garapaty joined MRIGlobal for an undergraduate internship in the engineering department. So, what’s Arjun been doing in the engineering department? Leading development of a microfluidic device that expands flow chemistry capabilities and could result in his name being on a patent.
Flow chemistry is the study of chemical reactions in a continuous stream of liquid, rather than in a beaker. Reactants are pumped at a known flow rate into a channel or tube, where they combine and initiate chemical reactions, which can then be observed. The benefit is that microfluidic reactions are more rapid, cost-effective, and automatable than traditional methods. With microfluidics, whole reaction spaces can be investigated using a series of interconnected and fully contained modules, a field known as lab-on-a-chip (LOC) microfluidics. And while this technology currently exists on a micro- scale, it’s most often used in biology, where the chemicals are compatible with existing acrylic materials used in chip design. That’s not the case in chemistry, where these same chips are unable to withstand the harsh chemical solvents involved in these reactions.