Lab on a Chip

1.0 Scope and Standards 

Lab on a Chip provides a unique forum for the publication of significant and original work related to miniaturisation (on and off chips) at the micro- and nano-scale across a variety of disciplines, including chemistry, biology, bioengineering, physics, electronics, clinical/medical science, (bio)chemical engineering and materials science, which is likely to be of interest to the multidisciplinary community that the journal addresses. All manuscripts should be written such that they are accessible to scientists in all disciplines associated with the subject, across both academic and industrial sectors. All article types should highlight, in the abstract and at the end of the introduction, the novel features and explain the significance of the work and likely impact on the relevant (micro and nano) lab-on-a-chip communities. 

Submissions from academic and industrial scientists involved with fundamental research, development or applications for micro- and nano-scale systems, technologies and devices in the following disciplines are sought and encouraged (Lab on a Chip also deals with off-chip systems): 

  • Chemical and biological micro/nanoreactors for chemical synthesis, biosynthesis, high-throughput synthesis, combinatorial chemistry, generation of hazardous chemicals at point-of-requirement, and safer synthesis 
  • Micro/nanofabrication technologies (in silicon, plastics, glass and other materials) including laser micro/nanofabrication, photochemistry, micro/nanophotolithography, micro/nanomachining etc. 
  • Monitoring in micro/nanoreactors 
  • Environmental monitoring/monitoring for health and security 
  • Micro/nanoelectronics and micro/nanorobotics 
  • Micro/nanomechanics and engineering in chip-based systems (MEMS and NEMS) 
  • Microbiotechnology and nanobiotechnology 
  • Polynucleotide arrays for genetic sequence analysis 
  • Genomics, proteomics, cellomics, DNA probes and PCR 
  • High-speed catalysis in miniaturised systems 
  • Micro/nanotechnical interfaces and interconnections 
  • Fluidics, fluids for micro/nanosystems, their mobilisation and control 
  • Medical diagnostics and screening, point-of-care clinical analyses, disease detection, drug delivery, and implantable devices 
  • Micro and nano total analytical systems (┬ÁTAS, nTAS), their components and applications 
  • Sample preparation in micro/nanostructured devices, nanoencapsulation, and nanotubes 
  • Micro/nanochip-based separation systems 
  • Micro/nanooptics and on-chip detection systems 
  • Micro/nanosensor systems 
  • Reduction of toxic wastes, and increases in efficiency, reliability and performance 
  • Waste minimisation (decreases in power and reagent consumption, time and cost)      

All contributions are judged on: 
(i) originality, novelty and quality of scientific content 
(ii) their contribution to advancing the theory, understanding, practice or application of miniaturisation in the subjects concerned 
(iii) appropriateness of length to content of new science. 

Papers reporting applications must contain a comparison with existing methods and demonstrate advantages over accepted methods before publication can be considered. 


2.0 Article types 

2.1 Communications 
These must report preliminary research findings that are highly original, of immediate interest and are likely to have a high impact on the lab-on-a-chip community. Communications are given priority treatment, are fast-tracked through the publication process and appear prominently at the front of the journal in a dedicated Communications section. The key aim of Communications is to present innovative chemical concepts with important implications. Authors should provide at the time of submission a short paragraph explaining why their work justifies urgent publication as a Communication. There is a strict three-page limit. Ideally, a Full Paper in Lab on a Chip should follow each Communication. 

2.2 Full Papers 
These must represent a significant development in the particular field and are judged according to originality, quality of scientific content and contribution to existing knowledge. Although there is no page limit for Full Papers, appropriateness of length to content of new science will be taken into consideration, and Lab on a Chip recommends a maximum of five figures and five tables. 

2.3 Technical Innovations 
Technical Innovations are the technical equivalent of Communication articles, but rather than dealing with innovative scientific subjects, they deal with innovative technologies. Please note that this is NOT a new name for Technical Notes but a new article type, therefore they will need to meet the following criteria:
1. Describe new and innovative technologies of immediate value to the lab on a chip, micro/nanofluidics or miniaturisation communities
2. Offer novel technical insight/s to new and/or existing problems Technical Innovations not meeting these criteria will be returned to authors without review. Incremental technical developments or simple improvements to instrumentation will not be considered.
Technical Innovations should be no longer than 3/4 journal pages and should clearly detail the innovative technology described and its potential value and benefit to the community.  

2.4 Critical and Tutorial Reviews 
These must be a critical evaluation of the existing state of knowledge on a particular facet of lab on a chip science; however, original work may be included. Simple literature surveys will not be accepted for publication. Potential review writers should contact the Editorial Office for a Review proposal form before embarking on the writing of your review. 

2.5 Frontier Reviews 
These are smaller, more focused versions of the critical and tutorial reviews on a well-defined, specific topic area covering approximately the last 24 months. Given topics should review work no more than 24 months old. Articles should cover only the most interesting/significant developments in that specific subject area. The article should be highly critical and selective in referencing published work. One or two paragraphs of speculation about possible future developments may also be appropriate in the conclusion section. Frontier reviews should be brief, four journal pages are recommended (ca. ten double spaced, typed A4 pages) and should contain no more than two or three tables and a minimal number of figures. Frontier reviews may also cover techniques/technologies that are too new for a full review or may address a subset of technologies available for a given area of research.

2.6 Methods
Methods articles may apply innovative technologies OR may involve innovative new use of an existing technology OR be more practical and thus warrant publication because of the potential for widespread application or use. The focus of these articles should be on the procedure that solves a problem or produces a new result or capability and the validation of that procedure. Methods need to contain sufficient detail for easy replication, therefore authors are allowed up to four journal pages for these articles, should they be accepted. 

2.7 Education articles
These articles seek to disseminate useful and relevant methods and experimentation to assist educators within this sector, develop and improve the tools they already have for training and teaching students in in lab on chip technologies. They are also intended to generate discussion with respect to wider education issues for the benefit of the community. 
Articles should ideally be aimed at graduate and undergraduate teaching labs and share information about resourcing equipment, experimental design, student approaches to resourcing issues and experimentation and lessons learned. Authors should finish with a summary of the value of their approach, the benefits and problems as well as future issues that may be foreseen with respect to training the next generation of Lab on a chip scientists. 

2.8 Grand challenges 
These articles are intended to provide future directions for research in areas where significant problems/issues or questions need to be resolved for the benefit of the community and to advance the science. 
These articles should focus on the major issues faced by the whole area of lab on a chip or specific subcategories within the area, e.g., single cell analysis. Authors are required to identify the issue/challenge stating why it is such a grand challenge and discuss the issues and need for resolution based on a critical evaluation of the relevant and specific literature. Authors should summarise through proposition of appropriate full or partial resolutions to the challenge and outlining both (i) future directions for research and (ii) where collaborations with other scientific communities (e.g., biologists) my help to speed resolution to the challenge. 
Grand Challenges may also focus entirely on the challenge alone and indicate with appropriate citation what the challenge is and why it needs resolution. In such cases the article may be no more than a single journal page if the author wishes (and to increase impact) although there is no limit to Grand Challenge articles. 


3.0 Chip design masks

Lab on a Chip can also host the chip design mask used in the construction of your chip. These are displayed with your article on the web as electronic supplementary information, where they can be freely accessed by all. We hope that by providing such a comprehensive record of chip designs, accessible by the wider miniaturisation community, this will:

  • benefit future research and save researchers time and expense
  • increase quality and reputation of on-chip research by making results easy to reprodue and verify
  • enhance the impact of your paper  

Researchers that use your designs will be asked to acknowledge them through appropriate citation.

Please note, although there is no compulsion to provide your masks, it is hoped that all authors will submit them voluntarily to benefit the miniaturisation community. Please send your files to:

Claire Darby

Editorial Production Manager