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Microfluidics

The field of microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip technology is providing unique opportunities for the cannabis industry to implement modern production processes. Microfluidics is a cannabis science and technique for the manipulation and control of fluids in micro-scaled channels. These microfluidic channels are about the same width as a human hair (70μm). Laminar flow, as opposed to chaotic mixing, enables precise control of your particle size and formation of highly monodisperse particles. Microfluidics provide safe, accurate, reliable, and cost-effective methods for encapsulating cannabinoids into lipid nanoparticles, nanoemulsions, liposomes, alginate beads, bubbles, hydrogels, and other complex structures. It offers fundamentally new capabilities in the control of concentrations of molecules in space and time. As a cannabis technology, microfluidics offers so many advantages and so few disadvantages it is truly remarkable.

Types

Nanoparticles

This continuous-flow microfluidic based system uses "miscible" phases to create lipid nanoparticles (LNP), nanoliposomes, nanoemulsions, nanobubbles, nanogels, and other complex structures. This method produces highly monodisperse particles, which means all the particles are the same size. Le Herbe uses a micromixer chip with a staggered herringbone mixer (SHM) for the formation of micelles. This hydrodynamic flow focusing strategy squeezes an aqueous flow and narrows the stream of the organic phase due to rapid solvent exchange via diffusion. Cannabis micelles made with microfluidics show remarkable potential due to their large solubilization power, drug loading capacity, therapeutic potential, and longevity.

  • Particle Size Range: 20-100nm (nanometer or submicron)
  • Polydispersity Index (PDI): < 0.1
  • Encapsulation Efficiency (EE): +95%

Droplets

This droplet-based microfluidic system uses "immiscible" phases to create single emulsions, double emulsions, alginate beads, microbubbles, microgels, and other complex structures. This method produces highly monodisperse droplets at rates of up to twenty thousand per second.

  • Particle Size Range: 1-100µm (micrometer or micron)
  • Polydispersity Index (PDI): < 0.1
  • Encapsulation Efficiency (EE): +95%

Equipment

You can setup microfluidics for cannabinoid processing with the following items for small scale production or R&D. Software comes with most pressure control units so you can operate on your computer, but you do have the option for manual override on the device.

  • Pressure & Flow Controller
  • Flow Sensor(s)
  • Sample Reservoir(s)
  • Microfluidic Chip(s)
  • Tubing, fitting, adapter, etc.(s)

Conclusion

Classical methods such as high pressure homogenization rely on bulk mixing and tend to suffer from poor reproducibility from batch to batch. Sonication has heat, noise, filtration, and scaling issues. The continuous-flow microfluidic-based system is a great alternative to these batch processes. We provided a brief overview above and recommend you read this article for more information on the microfluidics in nanomedicine. Microfluidics has the potential to become a standard production tool for the formulation of cannabis drug delivery systems with unprecedented degree of controllability, homogeneity, and particle architecture.

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