Earlier today, Science Daily published an article on the use of magnets by a researcher at NIST, Javier Atencia, to create a “new, inexpensive, reusable and highly efficient microfluidic connector“.
Microfluidics involves the control of fluids in very small channels and containers. According to the article:
The NIST connector employs a ring magnet with a O-ring gasket on its bottom and a tube in its center set directly atop the inlet or outlet port of a microfluidic channel embedded in a glass chip. A disc magnet on the underside of the chip holds the first magnet — and its tubing — securely in place.
According to the abstract of the original paper on which the article was based, “interfacial forces in the range of 2-15 N” have been achieved.
The folks at NIST do warn that while these connectors are suitable for a range of microfluidic applications, they are not suitable for use with magnetic nanoparticles or at higher temperatures.
You can get more details on this application here.