Smart microfluidic chip with integrated active components
In the past several years, the pace of microfluidic progress has developed the field to now encompass variety of subtopics. One interesting subtopic is the field of droplet microfluidics where devices produce nanoliter (or even femto- or picoliter) volumes of one fluid (usually water) within a second carrier fluid (usually oil). All droplets, each with a single cell or molecules, are literally digitized and independent microreactors subject to the same biological assay. This way cast libraries of cells, bacteria or DNA can be screened on the single cell/analyte level as opposed to the more conventional bulk measurements on large population. Although droplet microfluidics provide great advantages over conventional continuous microfluidics, little progress has been made with applying it in practical applications. One of the main obstacles is that current techniques for droplet generation, isolation and analysis require components based on different physics, made on different platforms and packaged in different formats. Often several chips need to be connected for a fully working droplet assay. This clear gap between modular demonstration and a fully integrated and reliable device cannot be bridged with the current discrete droplet fluidics techniques. One of the goals of current topic is to develop a platform where all operations occur on a single chip using active components. Operations such as fluid pumping, droplet generation, incubation and massive parallel sorting will all occur on a smart substrate so droplets can be monitored real time. This chip will combine actuation mechanism for pimping fluid as well as integrated imagers for the monitoring of droplets. Besides basic functionalities such as droplet generation, the aim is to develop active components enabling a fully integrated microfluidic droplet platform. The project involves Multiphysics simulation, measurement set-up development and hands on work in cleanroom environment to make the droplet activating microfluidic chip.