Ant-Man and The Wasp: Microscale Respiration and Microfluidic Technology
Insects and other terrestrial arthropods, benefitting from millions of years of evolutionary refinement, manipulate fluids efficiently, including their bodily fluids, air, nectar, and water, at the microscale in their daily lives. Microfluidic technology, though far behind insect fluid handling in terms of performance, is a rapidly developing field, which allows traditional laboratory testing spaces, occupying hundreds of square meters, to be shrunk down to chips occupying less than a square centimetre. These lab-on-a-chip microfluidic devices are positioned to revolutionize fields like exoplanetary composition testing and single cell biology studies, and can provide inexpensive, ubiquitous environmental monitoring and global health testing. Microfluidic technology, in addition, has the potential to bridge the gap between Ant-Man and the Wasp’s human respiratory apparatuses, and the more optimal ones that insects use to breath at the microscale, to help them overcome issues when they shrink in their suits like the “death zone dilemma” and a relative air density similar to that near the peak of Mt. Everest.
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