Wafer-scale processing of lab-on-chip devices at Imec

Imec has found a material that allows wafer-scale processing of lab-on-chip devices. Called Photo-Patternable Adhesive (PA) made by JSR of Japan, the material has been used by Imec to process microfluidic cell-sorter devices, merging microheaters and sensors with wafer-scale polymer microfluidics.

PA is a good microfluidic channel material and adhesive at the same time, suitable for wafer-scale processes and mass production.

The key to lab-on-chip technology is the ability to integrate microfluidics with heterogeneous components such as electronics, sensors, microheaters, and photonics in a cost-effective manner.

“PA solves a number of issues that we have with other materials, such as the widely-used PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane, a silicon-based organic polymer)”, says Imec’s Liesbet Lagae, “it has all the characteristics we are looking for in a photopatternable material to create microfluidic channels on silicon wafers, including a good channel definition and biocompatibility. But at the same time, it is an adhesive that allows direct thermal bonding with the cover glass. And unlike PDMS, it allows for wafer-scale processing, which is a prerequisite for industrial mass production.”

Imec used PA to process the next generation of its cell sorter lab-on-chip. Integrating on-chip imaging, in-flow cell tomography to identify cells, and bubble jet-flow technology to guide and sort individual cells, the prototype lab-on-chip can process up to 2,000 cells per second.

One application envisaged for these ultrafast cell-sorters is the detection of circulating tumor cells in human blood.

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Courtesy of Richard Wilson
Electronics Weekly