Microfluidics & MEMS

Semiconductor processing technology such as photolithography and deep silicon etching are used to create MEMS devices (micro sized machines and moving parts and sensors). MEMS devices, for example accelerometers or gyroscopes, are often components used in mobile phones.

This technology can also be applied to microfluidic devices – which can be used to pump fluids around a “lab on chip” system. At the Centre, microfluidic devices including microneedles, microchannels and micro-pumps have been developed.

Microneedles have several market applications. They can be used for transdermal fluid sampling, drug delivery and vaccine delivery. The microneedles can be integrated with microchannels, micro pumps and sensors. For example, hollow microneedles can be used to extract fluid from beneath the skin in a pain free sampling process. The fluid travels along the needle and subsequently into microchannels, from where it is pumped onto the active sensor surface. The sensor is then able to detect a particular biomarker – present in the sample fluid.

Such systems are being developed at CNH for the detection of glucose in interstitial fluid – for application in glucose testing for diabetics.

Microfluidic structures can be made from silicon, polymers (plastics) and metals at Swansea, using the state of the art etching and printing facilities.

CNH is working with several companies in developing microfluidic devices.