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Brief Summary

Thermal gradient plug flow microfluidic chip that enables extreme PCR.

Problem Statement

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is an inexpensive and robust technique for amplifying specific segments of DNA for gene analysis, DNA sequencing, DNA profiling, and diagnostic tests. The speed at which PCR can be performed depends on the time required to cycle through temperature dependent steps.

Technology Description

The microfluidic chip for extreme PCR allows for a 1 to 2 second PCR cycle. The chip has one uniform channel through which a PCR mix flows, with a single port acting as both an inlet and outlet. A thermal gradient is introduced across the chip, where one end is at the melting temperature of a target and the other is at the annealing temperature of DNA. The target is amplified after two cycles through the chip and identified on a high resolution melting instrument in roughly one minute. This chip facilitates extreme PCR that is cheap, easy to manufacture, and simple to use.

Stage of Development

Proof of Concept


  • Performs 40 cycles in 60 seconds, which is faster than any commercial thermal cycler.
  • Enables PCR on a microfluidic chip.
  • Provides sharp, distinct peaks on a high resolution melting instrument.


Jafek, A.R., Harbetson, S., Brady, H., Samuel, R., Gale, B.K. (2018). Instrumentation for xPCR incorporating qPCR and HRMA. Anal. Chem. 90(12), pp. 7190-7196. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b05176


Publication Number: US 2018 0093273 A1
Patent Title: Thermal Gradient Plug Flow Microfluidic Devices for Extreme PCR
Jurisdiction/Country: United States
Application Type: Non-Provisional

Contact Info

Aaron Duffy
(801) 585-1377


Raheel Samuel
Alex Jafek
James Trauba
Kenneth Aston
Bruce Gale