Hidden in Plain Sight

Hidden in Plain Sight

The History, Science, and Engineering of Microfluidic Technology

By Albert Folch

Stories behind essential microfluidic devices, from the inkjet printer to DNA sequencing chip.





Stories behind essential microfluidic devices, from the inkjet printer to DNA sequencing chip.

Often hidden from view, microfluidics underlies a variety of devices that are essential to our lives, from inkjet printers to glucometers for the monitoring of diabetes. Microfluidics—which refers to the technology of miniature fluidic devices and the study of fluids at submillimeter levels—is invisible to most of us because it is hidden beneath ingenious user interfaces. In this book, Albert Folch, a leading researcher in microfluidics, describes the development and use of key microfluidic devices. He explains not only the technology but also the efforts, teams, places, and circumstances that enabled these inventions.

Folch reports, for example, that the inkjet printer was one of the first microfluidic devices invented, and traces its roots back to nineteenth-century discoveries in the behavior of fluid jets. He also describes how rapid speed microfluidic DNA sequencers have enabled the sequencing of animal, plant, and microbial species genomes; organs on chips facilitate direct tests of drugs on human tissue, leapfrogging over the usual stage of animal testing; at-home pregnancy tests are based on clever microfluidic principles; microfluidics can be used to detect cancer cells in the early stages of metastasis; and the same technology that shoots droplets of ink on paper in inkjet printers enables 3D printers to dispense layers of polymers. Folch tells the stories behind these devices in an engaging style, accessible to nonspecialists. More than 100 color illustrations show readers amazing images of microfluids under the microscope.


$40.00 X ISBN: 9780262046893 352 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 122 color illus., 8 b&w illus.


  • “A wonderful book that throws open a world of wonders. Folch reveals deep insights into a world that is hidden but accessible through scientific inquiry. This book is a visual and intellectual treat.”

    Siddhartha Mukherjee

    Columbia University; author of The Emperor of All Maladies and The Laws of Medicine

  • “Albert Folch has done it again: Engaging and accessible storytelling that brings the origins, journey, and success of microfluidic technology to a wider audience.”

    David Beebe

    John D. MacArthur Professor and Claude Bernard Professor of Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin

  • “An exciting historical view of microfluidics, the details of the technology, as well as the teams, places, and driving factors that resulted in these inventions. A must-read for both the experts in the field and others interested in this enabling technology.”

    Ali Khademhosseini

    Director and CEO, Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation,