Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 19

Search results for: microfabrication

19 Performance Improvement in a Micro Compressor for Micro Gas Turbine Using Computational Fluid Dynamics

Authors: Kamran Siddique, Hiroyuki Asada, Yoshifumi Ogami


Micro gas turbine (MGT) nowadays has a wide variety of applications from drones to hybrid electric vehicles. As microfabrication technology getting better, the size of MGT is getting smaller. Overall performance of MGT is dependent on the individual components. Each component’s performance is dependent and interrelated with another component. Therefore, careful consideration needs to be given to each and every individual component of MGT. In this study, the focus is on improving the performance of the compressor in order to improve the overall performance of MGT. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is being performed using the software FLUENT to analyze the design of a micro compressor. Operating parameters like mass flow rate and RPM, and design parameters like inner blade angle (IBA), outer blade angle (OBA), blade thickness and number of blades are varied to study its effect on the performance of the compressor. Pressure ratio is used as a tool to measure the performance of the compressor. Higher the pressure ratio, better the design is. In the study, target mass flow rate is 0.2 g/s and RPM to be less than or equal to 900,000. So far, a pressure ratio of above 3 has been achieved at 0.2 g/s mass flow rate with 5 rotor blades, 0.36 mm blade thickness, 94.25 degrees OBA and 10.46 degrees IBA. The design in this study differs from a regular centrifugal compressor used in conventional gas turbines such that compressor is designed keeping in mind ease of manufacturability. So, this study proposes a compressor design which has a good pressure ratio, and at the same time, it is easy to manufacture using current microfabrication technologies.

Keywords: computational fluid dynamics, FLUENT microfabrication, RPM

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18 Design Optimization of a Micro Compressor for Micro Gas Turbine Using Computational Fluid Dynamics

Authors: Kamran Siddique, Hiroyuki Asada, Yoshifumi Ogami


The use of Micro Gas Turbine (MGT) as the engine in Unmanned Aerobic Vehicles (UAVs) and power source in Robotics is widespread these days. Research has been conducted in the past decade or so to improve the performance of different components of MGT. This type of engine has interrelated components which have non-linear characteristics. Therefore, the overall engine performance depends on the individual engine element’s performance. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is one of the simulation method tools used to analyze or even optimize MGT system performance. In this study, the compressor of the MGT is designed, and performance optimization is being done using CFD. Performance of the micro compressor is improved in order to increase the overall performance of MGT. A high value of pressure ratio is to be achieved by studying the effect of change of different operating parameters like mass flow rate and revolutions per minute (RPM) and aerodynamical and geometrical parameters on the pressure ratio of the compressor. Two types of compressor designs are considered in this study; 3D centrifugal and ‘planar’ designs. For a 10 mm impeller, the planar model is the simplest compressor model with the ease in manufacturability. On the other hand, 3D centrifugal model, although more efficient, is very difficult to manufacture using current microfabrication resources. Therefore, the planar model is the best-suited model for a micro compressor. So. a planar micro compressor has been designed that has a good pressure ratio, and it is easy to manufacture using current microfabrication technologies. Future work is to fabricate the compressor to get experimental results and validate the theoretical model.

Keywords: computational fluid dynamics, microfabrication, MEMS, unmanned aerobic vehicles

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17 Development of R³ UV Exposure for the UV Dose-Insensitive and Cost-Effective Fabrication of Biodegradable Polymer Microneedles

Authors: Sungmin Park, Gyungmok Nam, Seungpyo Woo, Young Choi, Sangheon Park, Sang-Hee Yoon


Puncturing human skin with microneedles is critically important for microneedle-mediate drug delivery. Despite of extensive efforts in the past decades, the scale-up fabrication of sharp-tipped and high-aspect-ratio microneedles, especially made of biodegradable polymers, is still a long way off. Here, we present a UV dose insensitive and cost-effective microfabrication method for the biodegradable polymer microneedles with sharp tips and long lengths which can pierce human skin with low insertion force. The biodegradable polymer microneedles are fabricated with the polymer solution casting where a poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA, 50:50) solution is coated onto a SU-8 mold prepared with a reverse, ramped, and rotational (R3) UV exposure. The R3 UV exposure is modified from the multidirectional UV exposure both to suppress UV reflection from the bottom surface without anti-reflection layers and to optimize solvent concentration in the SU-8 photoresist, therefore achieving robust (i.e., highly insensitive to UV dose) and cost-effective fabrication of biodegradable polymer microneedles. An optical model for describing the spatial distribution of UV irradiation dose of the R3 UV exposure is also developed to theoretically predict the microneedle geometry fabricated with the R3 UV exposure and also to demonstrate the insensitiveness of microneedle geometry to UV dose. In the experimental characterization, the microneedles fabricated with the R3 UV exposure are compared with those fabricated with a conventional method (i.e., multidirectional UV exposure). The R3 UV exposure-based microfabrication reduces the end-tip radius by a factor of 5.8 and the deviation from ideal aspect ratio by 74.8%, compared with conventional method-based microfabrication. The PLGA microneedles fabricated with the R3 UV exposure pierce full-thickness porcine skins successfully and are demonstrated to completely dissolve in PBS (phosphate-buffered saline). The findings of this study will lead to an explosive growth of the microneedle-mediated drug delivery market.

Keywords: R³ UV exposure, optical model, UV dose, reflection, solvent concentration, biodegradable polymer microneedle

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16 Laser Based Microfabrication of a Microheater Chip for Cell Culture

Authors: Daniel Nieto, Ramiro Couceiro


Microfluidic chips have demonstrated their significant application potentials in microbiological processing and chemical reactions, with the goal of developing monolithic and compact chip-sized multifunctional systems. Heat generation and thermal control are critical in some of the biochemical processes. The paper presents a laser direct-write technique for rapid prototyping and manufacturing of microheater chips and its applicability for perfusion cell culture outside a cell incubator. The aim of the microheater is to take the role of conventional incubators for cell culture for facilitating microscopic observation or other online monitoring activities during cell culture and provides portability of cell culture operation. Microheaters (5 mm × 5 mm) have been successfully fabricated on soda-lime glass substrates covered with aluminum layer of thickness 120 nm. Experimental results show that the microheaters exhibit good performance in temperature rise and decay characteristics, with localized heating at targeted spatial domains. These microheaters were suitable for a maximum long-term operation temperature of 120ºC and validated for long-time operation at 37ºC. for 24 hours. Results demonstrated that the physiology of the cultured SW480 adenocarcinoma of the colon cell line on the developed microheater chip was consistent with that of an incubator.

Keywords: laser microfabrication, microheater, bioengineering, cell culture

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15 Towards the Integration of a Micro Pump in μTAS

Authors: Y. Haik


The objective of this study is to present a micro mechanical pump that was fabricated using SwIFT™ microfabrication surface micromachining process and to demonstrate the feasibility of integrating such micro pump into a micro analysis system. The micropump circulates the bio-sample and magnetic nanoparticles through different compartments to separate and purify the targeted bio-sample. This article reports the flow characteristics in the microchannels and in a crescent micro pump.

Keywords: crescent micropumps, microanalysis, nanoparticles, MEMS

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14 Microfabrication of Three-Dimensional SU-8 Structures Using Positive SPR Photoresist as a Sacrificial Layer for Integration of Microfluidic Components on Biosensors

Authors: Su Yin Chiam, Qing Xin Zhang, Jaehoon Chung


Complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) integrated circuits (ICs) have obtained increased attention in the biosensor community because CMOS technology provides cost-effective and high-performance signal processing at a mass-production level. In order to supply biological samples and reagents effectively to the sensing elements, there are increasing demands for seamless integration of microfluidic components on the fabricated CMOS wafers by post-processing. Although the PDMS microfluidic channels replicated from separately prepared silicon mold can be typically aligned and bonded onto the CMOS wafers, it remains challenging owing the inherently limited aligning accuracy ( > ± 10 μm) between the two layers. Here we present a new post-processing method to create three-dimensional microfluidic components using two different polarities of photoresists, an epoxy-based negative SU-8 photoresist and positive SPR220-7 photoresist. The positive photoresist serves as a sacrificial layer and the negative photoresist was utilized as a structural material to generate three-dimensional structures. Because both photoresists are patterned using a standard photolithography technology, the dimensions of the structures can be effectively controlled as well as the alignment accuracy, moreover, is dramatically improved (< ± 2 μm) and appropriately can be adopted as an alternative post-processing method. To validate the proposed processing method, we applied this technique to build cell-trapping structures. The SU8 photoresist was mainly used to generate structures and the SPR photoresist was used as a sacrificial layer to generate sub-channel in the SU8, allowing fluid to pass through. The sub-channel generated by etching the sacrificial layer works as a cell-capturing site. The well-controlled dimensions enabled single-cell capturing on each site and high-accuracy alignment made cells trapped exactly on the sensing units of CMOS biosensors.

Keywords: SU-8, microfluidic, MEMS, microfabrication

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13 Cost Effective Microfabrication Technique for Lab on Chip (LOC) Devices Using Epoxy Polymers

Authors: Charmi Chande, Ravindra Phadke


Microfluidics devices are fabricated by using multiple fabrication methods. Photolithography is one of the common methods wherein SU8 is widely used for making master which in turn is used for making working chip by the process of soft lithography. The high-aspect ratio features of SU-8 makes it suitable to be used as micro moulds for injection moulding, hot embossing, and moulds to form polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) structures for bioMEMS (Microelectromechanical systems) applications. But due to high cost, difficulty in procuring and need for clean room, restricts the use of this polymer especially in developing countries and small research labs. ‘Bisphenol –A’ based polymers in mixture with curing agent are used in various industries like Paints and coatings, Adhesives, Electrical systems and electronics, Industrial tooling and composites. We present the novel use of ‘Bisphenol – A’ based polymer in fabricating micro channels for Lab On Chip(LOC) devices. The present paper describes the prototype for production of microfluidics chips using range of ‘Bisphenol-A’ based polymers viz. GY 250, ATUL B11, DER 331, DER 330 in mixture with cationic photo initiators. All the steps of chip production were carried out using an inexpensive approach that uses low cost chemicals and equipment. This even excludes the need of clean room. The produced chips using all above mentioned polymers were validated with respect to height and the chip giving least height was selected for further experimentation. The lowest height achieved was 7 micrometers by GY250. The cost of the master fabricated was $ 0.20 and working chip was $. 0.22. The best working chip was used for morphological identification and profiling of microorganisms from environmental samples like soil, marine water and salt water pan sites. The current chip can be adapted for various microbiological screening experiments like biochemical based microbial identification, studying uncultivable microorganisms at single cell/community level.

Keywords: bisphenol–A based epoxy, cationic photoinitiators, microfabrication, photolithography

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12 Acceleration of DNA Hybridization Using Electroosmotic Flow

Authors: Yun-Hsiang Wang, Huai-Yi Chen, Kin Fong Lei


Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) hybridization is a common technique used in genetic assay widely. However, the hybridization ratio and rate are usually limited by the diffusion effect. Here, microfluidic electrode platform producing electroosmosis generated by alternating current signal has been proposed to enhance the hybridization ratio and rate. The electrode was made of aurum fabricated by microfabrication technique. Thiol-modified oligo probe was immobilized on the electrode for specific capture of target, which is modified by fluorescent tag. Alternative electroosmosis can induce local microfluidic vortexes to accelerate DNA hybridization. This study provides a strategy to enhance the rate of DNA hybridization in the genetic assay.

Keywords: DNA hybridization, electroosmosis, electrical enhancement, hybridization ratio

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11 Blood Clot Emulsification via Ultrasonic Thrombolysis Device

Authors: Sun Tao, Lou Liang, Tan Xing Haw Marvin, Gu Yuandong Alex


Patients with blood clots in their brains can experience problems with their vision or speech, seizures and general weakness. To treat blood clots, clinicians presently have two options. The first involves drug therapy to thin the blood and thus reduce the clot. The second choice is to invasively remove the clot using a plastic tube called a catheter. Both approaches carry a high risk of bleeding, and invasive procedures, such as catheter intervention, can also damage the blood vessel wall and cause infection. Ultrasonic treatment as a potential alternative therapy to break down clots is attracting growing interests due to the reduced adverse effects. To demonstrate the concept, in this investigation a microfabricated ultrasonic device was electrically packaged with printed circuit board to treat healthy human blood. The red blood cells could be broken down after 3-hour ultrasonic treatment.

Keywords: microfabrication, blood clot, ultrasonic thrombolysis device, ultrasonic device

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10 Normally Closed Thermoplastic Microfluidic Valves with Microstructured Valve Seats: A Strategy to Avoid Permanently Bonded Valves during Channel Sealing

Authors: Kebin Li, Keith Morton, Matthew Shiu, Karine Turcotte, Luke Lukic, Teodor Veres


We present a normally closed thermoplastic microfluidic valve design that uses microstructured valve seats to locally prevent the membrane from bonding to the valve seat during microfluidic channel sealing. The microstructured valve seat reduces the adhesion force between the contact surfaces of the valve seat and the membrane locally, allowing valve open and close operations while simultaneously providing a permanent and robust bond elsewhere to cover and seal the microfluidic channel network. Dynamic valve operation including opening and closing times can be tuned by changing the valve seat diameter as well as the density of the microstructures on the valve seats. The influence of the microstructured valve seat on the general flow behavior through the microfluidic devices was also studied. A design window for the fabrication of valve structure is identified and discussed to minimize the fabrication complexity.

Keywords: hot-embossing, injection molding, microfabrication, microfluidics, microvalves, thermoplastic elastomer

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9 Visualization of Flow Behaviour in Micro-Cavities during Micro Injection Moulding

Authors: Reza Gheisari, Paulo J. Bartolo, Nicholas Goddard


Polymeric micro-cantilevers (Cs) are rapidly becoming popular for MEMS applications such as chemo- and bio-sensing as well as purely electromechanical applications such as microrelays. Polymer materials present suitable physical and chemical properties combined with low-cost mass production. Hence, micro-cantilevers made of polymers indicate much more biocompatibility and adaptability of rapid prototyping along with mechanical properties. This research studies the effects of three process and one size factors on the filling behaviour in micro cavity, and the role of each in the replication of micro parts using different polymer materials i.e. polypropylene (PP) SABIC 56M10 and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) Magnum 8434. In particular, the following factors are considered: barrel temperature, mould temperature, injection speed and the thickness of micro features. The study revealed that the barrel temperature and the injection speed are the key factors affecting the flow length of micro features replicated in PP and ABS. For both materials, an increase of feature sizes improves the melt flow. However, the melt fill of micro features does not increase linearly with the increase of their thickness.

Keywords: flow length, micro cantilevers, micro injection moulding, microfabrication

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8 Fabricating Method for Complex 3D Microfluidic Channel Using Soluble Wax Mold

Authors: Kyunghun Kang, Sangwoo Oh, Yongha Hwang


PDMS (Polydimethylsiloxane)-based microfluidic device has been recently applied to area of biomedical research, tissue engineering, and diagnostics because PDMS is low cost, nontoxic, optically transparent, gas-permeable, and especially biocompatible. Generally, PDMS microfluidic devices are fabricated by conventional soft lithography. Microfabrication requires expensive cleanroom facilities and a lot of time; however, only two-dimensional or simple three-dimensional structures can be fabricated. In this study, we introduce fabricating method for complex three-dimensional microfluidic channels using soluble wax mold. Using the 3D printing technique, we firstly fabricated three-dimensional mold which consists of soluble wax material. The PDMS pre-polymer is cast around, followed by PDMS casting and curing. The three-dimensional casting mold was removed from PDMS by chemically dissolved with methanol and acetone. In this work, two preliminary experiments were carried out. Firstly, the solubility of several waxes was tested using various solvents, such as acetone, methanol, hexane, and IPA. We found the combination between wax and solvent which dissolves the wax. Next, side effects of the solvent were investigated during the curing process of PDMS pre-polymer. While some solvents let PDMS drastically swell, methanol and acetone let PDMS swell only 2% and 6%, respectively. Thus, methanol and acetone can be used to dissolve wax in PDMS without any serious impact. Based on the preliminary tests, three-dimensional PDMS microfluidic channels was fabricated using the mold which was printed out using 3D printer. With the proposed fabricating technique, PDMS-based microfluidic devices have advantages of fast prototyping, low cost, optically transparence, as well as having complex three-dimensional geometry. Acknowledgements: This research was supported by Supported by a Korea University Grant and Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea(NRF).

Keywords: microfluidic channel, polydimethylsiloxane, 3D printing, casting

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7 Bulk Modification of Poly(Dimethylsiloxane) for Biomedical Applications

Authors: A. Aslihan Gokaltun, Martin L. Yarmush, Ayse Asatekin, O. Berk Usta


In the last decade microfabrication processes including rapid prototyping techniques have advanced rapidly and achieved a fairly matured stage. These advances encouraged and enabled the use of microfluidic devices by a wider range of users with applications in biological separations, and cell and organoid cultures. Accordingly, a significant current challenge in the field is controlling biomolecular interactions at interfaces and the development of novel biomaterials to satisfy the unique needs of the biomedical applications. Poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) is by far the most preferred material in the fabrication of microfluidic devices. This can be attributed its favorable properties, including: (1) simple fabrication by replica molding, (2) good mechanical properties, (3) excellent optical transparency from 240 to 1100 nm, (4) biocompatibility and non-toxicity, and (5) high gas permeability. However, high hydrophobicity (water contact angle ~108°±7°) of PDMS often limits its applications where solutions containing biological samples are concerned. In our study, we created a simple, easy method for modifying the surface chemistry of PDMS microfluidic devices through the addition of surface-segregating additives during manufacture. In this method, a surface segregating copolymer is added to precursors for silicone and the desired device is manufactured following the usual methods. When the device surface is in contact with an aqueous solution, the copolymer self-organizes to expose its hydrophilic segments to the surface, making the surface of the silicone device more hydrophilic. This can lead to several improved performance criteria including lower fouling, lower non-specific adsorption, and better wettability. Specifically, this approach is expected to be useful for the manufacture of microfluidic devices. It is also likely to be useful for manufacturing silicone tubing and other materials, biomaterial applications, and surface coatings.

Keywords: microfluidics, non-specific protein adsorption, PDMS, PEG, copolymer

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6 Microfluidic Device for Real-Time Electrical Impedance Measurements of Biological Cells

Authors: Anil Koklu, Amin Mansoorifar, Ali Beskok


Dielectric spectroscopy (DS) is a noninvasive, label free technique for a long term real-time measurements of the impedance spectra of biological cells. DS enables characterization of cellular dielectric properties such as membrane capacitance and cytoplasmic conductivity. We have developed a lab-on-a-chip device that uses an electro-activated microwells array for loading, DS measurements, and unloading of biological cells. We utilized from dielectrophoresis (DEP) to capture target cells inside the wells and release them after DS measurement. DEP is a label-free technique that exploits differences among dielectric properties of the particles. In detail, DEP is the motion of polarizable particles suspended in an ionic solution and subjected to a spatially non-uniform external electric field. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first microfluidic chip that combines DEP and DS to analyze biological cells using electro-activated wells. Device performance is tested using two different cell lines of prostate cancer cells (RV122, PC-3). Impedance measurements were conducted at 0.2 V in the 10 kHz to 40 MHz range with 6 s time resolution. An equivalent circuit model was developed to extract the cell membrane capacitance and cell cytoplasmic conductivity from the impedance spectra. We report the time course of the variations in dielectric properties of PC-3 and RV122 cells suspended in low conductivity medium (LCB), which enhances dielectrophoretic and impedance responses, and their response to sudden pH change from a pH of 7.3 to a pH of 5.8. It is shown that microfluidic chip allowed online measurements of dielectric properties of prostate cancer cells and the assessment of the cellular level variations under external stimuli such as different buffer conductivity and pH. Based on these data, we intend to deploy the current device for single cell measurements by fabricating separately addressable N × N electrode platforms. Such a device will allow time-dependent dielectric response measurements for individual cells with the ability of selectively releasing them using negative-DEP and pressure driven flow.

Keywords: microfluidic, microfabrication, lab on a chip, AC electrokinetics, dielectric spectroscopy

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5 Nanofluidic Cell for Resolution Improvement of Liquid Transmission Electron Microscopy

Authors: Deybith Venegas-Rojas, Sercan Keskin, Svenja Riekeberg, Sana Azim, Stephanie Manz, R. J. Dwayne Miller, Hoc Khiem Trieu


Liquid Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) is a growing area with a broad range of applications from physics and chemistry to material engineering and biology, in which it is possible to image in-situ unseen phenomena. For this, a nanofluidic device is used to insert the nanoflow with the sample inside the microscope in order to keep the liquid encapsulated because of the high vacuum. In the last years, Si3N4 windows have been widely used because of its mechanical stability and low imaging contrast. Nevertheless, the pressure difference between the inside fluid and the outside vacuum in the TEM generates bulging in the windows. This increases the imaged fluid volume, which decreases the signal to noise ratio (SNR), limiting the achievable spatial resolution. With the proposed device, the membrane is fortified with a microstructure capable of stand higher pressure differences, and almost removing completely the bulging. A theoretical study is presented with Finite Element Method (FEM) simulations which provide a deep understanding of the membrane mechanical conditions and proves the effectiveness of this novel concept. Bulging and von Mises Stress were studied for different membrane dimensions, geometries, materials, and thicknesses. The microfabrication of the device was made with a thin wafer coated with thin layers of SiO2 and Si3N4. After the lithography process, these layers were etched (reactive ion etching and buffered oxide etch (BOE) respectively). After that, the microstructure was etched (deep reactive ion etching). Then the back side SiO2 was etched (BOE) and the array of free-standing micro-windows was obtained. Additionally, a Pyrex wafer was patterned with windows, and inlets/outlets, and bonded (anodic bonding) to the Si side to facilitate the thin wafer handling. Later, a thin spacer is sputtered and patterned with microchannels and trenches to guide the nanoflow with the samples. This approach reduces considerably the common bulging problem of the window, improving the SNR, contrast and spatial resolution, increasing substantially the mechanical stability of the windows, allowing a larger viewing area. These developments lead to a wider range of applications of liquid TEM, expanding the spectrum of possible experiments in the field.

Keywords: liquid cell, liquid transmission electron microscopy, nanofluidics, nanofluidic cell, thin films

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4 Quantum Conductance Based Mechanical Sensors Fabricated with Closely Spaced Metallic Nanoparticle Arrays

Authors: Min Han, Di Wu, Lin Yuan, Fei Liu


Mechanical sensors have undergone a continuous evolution and have become an important part of many industries, ranging from manufacturing to process, chemicals, machinery, health-care, environmental monitoring, automotive, avionics, and household appliances. Concurrently, the microelectronics and microfabrication technology have provided us with the means of producing mechanical microsensors characterized by high sensitivity, small size, integrated electronics, on board calibration, and low cost. Here we report a new kind of mechanical sensors based on the quantum transport process of electrons in the closely spaced nanoparticle films covering a flexible polymer sheet. The nanoparticle films were fabricated by gas phase depositing of preformed metal nanoparticles with a controlled coverage on the electrodes. To amplify the conductance of the nanoparticle array, we fabricated silver interdigital electrodes on polyethylene terephthalate(PET) by mask evaporation deposition. The gaps of the electrodes ranged from 3 to 30μm. Metal nanoparticles were generated from a magnetron plasma gas aggregation cluster source and deposited on the interdigital electrodes. Closely spaced nanoparticle arrays with different coverage could be gained through real-time monitoring the conductance. In the film coulomb blockade and quantum, tunneling/hopping dominate the electronic conduction mechanism. The basic principle of the mechanical sensors relies on the mechanical deformation of the fabricated devices which are translated into electrical signals. Several kinds of sensing devices have been explored. As a strain sensor, the device showed a high sensitivity as well as a very wide dynamic range. A gauge factor as large as 100 or more was demonstrated, which can be at least one order of magnitude higher than that of the conventional metal foil gauges or even better than that of the semiconductor-based gauges with a workable maximum applied strain beyond 3%. And the strain sensors have a workable maximum applied strain larger than 3%. They provide the potential to be a new generation of strain sensors with performance superior to that of the currently existing strain sensors including metallic strain gauges and semiconductor strain gauges. When integrated into a pressure gauge, the devices demonstrated the ability to measure tiny pressure change as small as 20Pa near the atmospheric pressure. Quantitative vibration measurements were realized on a free-standing cantilever structure fabricated with closely-spaced nanoparticle array sensing element. What is more, the mechanical sensor elements can be easily scaled down, which is feasible for MEMS and NEMS applications.

Keywords: gas phase deposition, mechanical sensors, metallic nanoparticle arrays, quantum conductance

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3 Real-Time Monitoring of Complex Multiphase Behavior in a High Pressure and High Temperature Microfluidic Chip

Authors: Renée M. Ripken, Johannes G. E. Gardeniers, Séverine Le Gac


Controlling the multiphase behavior of aqueous biomass mixtures is essential when working in the biomass conversion industry. Here, the vapor/liquid equilibria (VLE) of ethylene glycol, glycerol, and xylitol were studied for temperatures between 25 and 200 °C and pressures of 1 to 10 bar. These experiments were performed in a microfluidic platform, which exhibits excellent heat transfer properties so that equilibrium is reached fast. Firstly, the saturated vapor pressure as a function of the temperature and the substrate mole fraction of the substrate was calculated using AspenPlus with a Redlich-Kwong-Soave Boston-Mathias (RKS-BM) model. Secondly, we developed a high-pressure and high-temperature microfluidic set-up for experimental validation. Furthermore, we have studied the multiphase flow pattern that occurs after the saturation temperature was achieved. A glass-silicon microfluidic device containing a 0.4 or 0.2 m long meandering channel with a depth of 250 μm and a width of 250 or 500 μm was fabricated using standard microfabrication techniques. This device was placed in a dedicated chip-holder, which includes a ceramic heater on the silicon side. The temperature was controlled and monitored by three K-type thermocouples: two were located between the heater and the silicon substrate, one to set the temperature and one to measure it, and the third one was placed in a 300 μm wide and 450 μm deep groove on the glass side to determine the heat loss over the silicon. An adjustable back pressure regulator and a pressure meter were added to control and evaluate the pressure during the experiment. Aqueous biomass solutions (10 wt%) were pumped at a flow rate of 10 μL/min using a syringe pump, and the temperature was slowly increased until the theoretical saturation temperature for the pre-set pressure was reached. First and surprisingly, a significant difference was observed between our theoretical saturation temperature and the experimental results. The experimental values were 10’s of degrees higher than the calculated ones and, in some cases, saturation could not be achieved. This discrepancy can be explained in different ways. Firstly, the pressure in the microchannel is locally higher due to both the thermal expansion of the liquid and the Laplace pressure that has to be overcome before a gas bubble can be formed. Secondly, superheating effects are likely to be present. Next, once saturation was reached, the flow pattern of the gas/liquid multiphase system was recorded. In our device, the point of nucleation can be controlled by taking advantage of the pressure drop across the channel and the accurate control of the temperature. Specifically, a higher temperature resulted in nucleation further upstream in the channel. As the void fraction increases downstream, the flow regime changes along the channel from bubbly flow to Taylor flow and later to annular flow. All three flow regimes were observed simultaneously. The findings of this study are key for the development and optimization of a microreactor for hydrogen production from biomass.

Keywords: biomass conversion, high pressure and high temperature microfluidics, multiphase, phase diagrams, superheating

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2 A Robust Stretchable Bio Micro-Electromechanical Systems Technology for High-Strain in vitro Cellular Studies

Authors: Tiffany Baetens, Sophie Halliez, Luc Buée, Emiliano Pallecchi, Vincent Thomy, Steve Arscott


We demonstrate here a viable stretchable bio-microelectromechanical systems (BioMEMS) technology for use with biological studies concerned with the effect of high mechanical strains on living cells. An example of this is traumatic brain injury (TBI) where neurons are damaged with physical force to the brain during, e.g., accidents and sports. Robust, miniaturized integrated systems are needed by biologists to be able to study the effect of TBI on neuron cells in vitro. The major challenges in this area are (i) to develop micro, and nanofabrication processes which are based on stretchable substrates and to (ii) create systems which are robust and performant at very high mechanical strain values—sometimes as high as 100%. At the time of writing, such processes and systems were rapidly evolving subject of research and development. The BioMEMS which we present here is composed of an elastomer substrate (low Young’s modulus ~1 MPa) onto which is patterned robust electrodes and insulators. The patterning of the thin films is achieved using standard photolithography techniques directly on the elastomer substrate—thus making the process generic and applicable to many materials’ in based systems. The chosen elastomer used is commercial ‘Sylgard 184’ polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). It is spin-coated onto a silicon wafer. Multistep ultra-violet based photolithography involving commercial photoresists are then used to pattern robust thin film metallic electrodes (chromium/gold) and insulating layers (parylene) on the top of the PDMS substrate. The thin film metals are deposited using thermal evaporation and shaped using lift-off techniques The BioMEMS has been characterized mechanically using an in-house strain-applicator tool. The system is composed of 12 electrodes with one reference electrode transversally-orientated to the uniaxial longitudinal straining of the system. The electrical resistance of the electrodes is observed to remain very stable with applied strain—with a resistivity approaching that of evaporated gold—up to an interline strain of ~50%. The mechanical characterization revealed some interesting original properties of such stretchable BioMEMS. For example, a Poisson effect induced electrical ‘self-healing’ of cracking was identified. Biocompatibility of the commercial photoresist has been studied and is conclusive. We will present the results of the BioMEMS, which has also characterized living cells with a commercial Multi Electrode Array (MEA) characterization tool (Multi Channel Systems, USA). The BioMEMS enables the cells to be strained up to 50% and then characterized electrically and optically.

Keywords: BioMEMS, elastomer, electrical impedance measurements of living cells, high mechanical strain, microfabrication, stretchable systems, thin films, traumatic brain injury

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1 Microfabrication and Non-Invasive Imaging of Porous Osteogenic Structures Using Laser-Assisted Technologies

Authors: Irina Alexandra Paun, Mona Mihailescu, Marian Zamfirescu, Catalin Romeo Luculescu, Adriana Maria Acasandrei, Cosmin Catalin Mustaciosu, Roxana Cristina Popescu, Maria Dinescu


A major concern in bone tissue engineering is to develop complex 3D architectures that mimic the natural cells environment, facilitate the cells growth in a defined manner and allow the flow transport of nutrients and metabolic waste. In particular, porous structures of controlled pore size and positioning are indispensable for growing human-like bone structures. Another concern is to monitor both the structures and the seeded cells with high spatial resolution and without interfering with the cells natural environment. The present approach relies on laser-based technologies employed for fabricating porous biomimetic structures that support the growth of osteoblast-like cells and for their non-invasive 3D imaging. Specifically, the porous structures were built by two photon polymerization –direct writing (2PP_DW) of the commercially available photoresists IL-L780, using the Photonic Professional 3D lithography system. The structures consist of vertical tubes with micrometer-sized heights and diameters, in a honeycomb-like spatial arrangement. These were fabricated by irradiating the IP-L780 photoresist with focused laser pulses with wavelength centered at 780 nm, 120 fs pulse duration and 80 MHz repetition rate. The samples were precisely scanned in 3D by piezo stages. The coarse positioning was done by XY motorized stages. The scanning path was programmed through a writing language (GWL) script developed by Nanoscribe. Following laser irradiation, the unexposed regions of the photoresist were washed out by immersing the samples in the Propylene Glycol Monomethyl Ether Acetate (PGMEA). The porous structures were seeded with osteoblast like MG-63 cells and their osteogenic potential was tested in vitro. The cell-seeded structures were analyzed in 3D using the digital holographic microscopy technique (DHM). DHM is a marker free and high spatial resolution imaging tool, where the hologram acquisition is performed non-invasively i.e. without interfering with the cells natural environment. Following hologram recording, a digital algorithm provided a 3D image of the sample, as well as information about its refractive index, which is correlated with the intracellular content. The axial resolution of the images went down to the nanoscale, while the temporal scales ranged from milliseconds up to hours. The hologram did not involve sample scanning and the whole image was available in one frame recorded going over 200μm field of view. The digital holograms processing provided 3D quantitative information on the porous structures and allowed a quantitative analysis of the cellular response in respect to the porous architectures. The cellular shape and dimensions were found to be influenced by the underlying micro relief. Furthermore, the intracellular content gave evidence on the beneficial role of the porous structures in promoting osteoblast differentiation. In all, the proposed laser-based protocol emerges as a promising tool for the fabrication and non-invasive imaging of porous constructs for bone tissue engineering. Acknowledgments: This work was supported by a grant of the Romanian Authority for Scientific Research and Innovation, CNCS-UEFISCDI, project PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-2534 (contract 97 from 01/10/2015) and by UEFISCDI PN-II-PT-PCCA no. 6/2012. A part of this work was performed in the CETAL laser facility, supported by the National Program PN 16 47 - LAPLAS IV.

Keywords: biomimetic, holography, laser, osteoblast, two photon polymerization

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