The oven, which is capable of heating a pinhead-sized drop of liquid inside a container slightly shorter than an ant (4mm) and half as wide as a single hair, is intended for lab-on-a-chip devices.
The researchers successfully integrated the device with a microfludic channel to control selectively and precisely the temperature of fluid volumes ranging from a few microlitres to sub-nanolitres. This could be used in polymerase chain reaction (PCR) processes, which are often used for the diagnosis of infectious diseases.
The team embedded a thin-film microwave transmission line between a glass substrate and a polymer block to create the micro microwave oven. A trapezoidal-shaped cut in the polymer block serves as the chamber of the fluid to be heated.
When the technology is developed the researchers hope it can be used for a wide variety of applications.