Microfluidics deals with the behavior, precise control and manipulation of fluids that are geometrically constrained to a small, typically sub-millimeter, scale.
Typically, micro means one of the following features:
  • small volumes (nl, pl, fl)
  • small size
  • low energy consumption
  • effects of the micro domain

It is a multidisciplinary field intersecting engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

, physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

, microtechnology
Microtechnology is technology with features near one micrometre .In the 1960s, scientists learned that by arraying large numbers of microscopic transistors on a single chip, microelectronic circuits could be built that dramatically improved performance, functionality, and reliability, all while...

 and biotechnology
Biotechnology is a field of applied biology that involves the use of living organisms and bioprocesses in engineering, technology, medicine and other fields requiring bioproducts. Biotechnology also utilizes these products for manufacturing purpose...

, with practical
applications to the design of systems in which such small volumes of fluids will be used.
Microfluidics emerged in the beginning of the 1980s and is used in the development of inkjet printheads, DNA chips
DNA microarray
A DNA microarray is a collection of microscopic DNA spots attached to a solid surface. Scientists use DNA microarrays to measure the expression levels of large numbers of genes simultaneously or to genotype multiple regions of a genome...

, lab-on-a-chip
A lab-on-a-chip is a device that integrates one or several laboratory functions on a single chip of only millimeters to a few square centimeters in size. LOCs deal with the handling of extremely small fluid volumes down to less than pico liters. Lab-on-a-chip devices are a subset of MEMS devices...

 technology, micro-propulsion, and micro-thermal
Thermodynamics is a physical science that studies the effects on material bodies, and on radiation in regions of space, of transfer of heat and of work done on or by the bodies or radiation...

The behavior of fluids at the microscale can differ from 'macrofluidic' behavior in that factors such as surface tension
Surface tension
Surface tension is a property of the surface of a liquid that allows it to resist an external force. It is revealed, for example, in floating of some objects on the surface of water, even though they are denser than water, and in the ability of some insects to run on the water surface...

, energy dissipation, and fluidic resistance start to dominate the system.