Microfluidic devices may offer various advantages for forensic DNA analysis, such as reduced risk of contamination, shorter analysis time and direct application at the crime scene. Microfluidic chip technology has already proven to be functional and effective within medical applications, such as for point-of-care use. In the forensic field, one may expect microfluidic technology to become particularly relevant for the analysis of biological traces containing human DNA. This would require a number of consecutive steps, including sample work up, DNA amplification and detection, as well as secure storage of the sample. This article provides an extensive overview of microfluidic devices for cell lysis, DNA extraction and purification, DNA amplification and detection and analysis techniques for DNA. Topics to be discussed are polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on-chip, digital PCR (dPCR), isothermal amplification on-chip, chip materials, integrated devices and commercially available techniques. A critical overview of the opportunities and challenges of the use of chips is discussed, and developments made in forensic DNA analysis over the past 10–20 years with microfluidic systems are described. Areas in which further research is needed are indicated in a future outlook.
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