Miniaturization Puts Chemical Plants Where You Want Them

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Science  16 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5388, pp. 400
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5388.400

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Researchers are developing tiny silicon-based chemical plants--typically just centimeters in size and etched with a series of micrometer-sized channels, valves, and reaction chambers--that could take the place of some large-scale chemical reactors. Because they are often made with the same microfabrication techniques as those used in the computer-chip industry, they have the potential to be both cheap and small, making it easy to scale production up or down as needed and allowing hazardous chemicals to be made at their point of use rather than stockpiled.