The trick to producing labs-on-a-chip is making equipment that provides accurate results using microliter volumes. Mycometrix Corp. believes that rigid, etched chip surfaces create some of the biggest hurdles to microfluidics. The company thus has substituted rubber as the basis for its chips to handle microliter and nanoliter samples of DNA and proteins.

According to CEO Gajus Worthington, micromachines traditionally are pieces of rigid material with patterns, such as microfluidics channels, etched into them. "It turns out, however, that for channels or pumps at that level, a pliable material is superior to a rigid one. We mold ours from silicone elastomer," he said.