At the very core of all MF3 research is the fundamental science and technology of micro/nanofluidics (MF). Fundamental phenomena are addressed throughout the course of our research, including aspects such as overcoming detection limits, material and process integration, surface science, micro-scale fluid dynamics, sorting and separation of constituents, reliability physics, and efficient fluidic transport mechanisms.

The development of MF platforms (such as SIMPs) is also major research focus at MF3. These are the modules that will ultimately be integrated according to the application being addressed. We feel MF platform integration can be promoted through the development of standard manufacturing techniques for micro/nanofluidics. At MF3 we intend to bridge the gap between prototype and large scale production of MF platforms by focusing on the fundamental issues associated with this transition.

There are two types of research on-going at MF3: (1) core research and (2) targeted research. Core research is funded by the MF3 center, and mainly focuses on fundamentals, overcoming current limitations of MF technology, and MF platform development. Targeted research (also called “sponsored research”) is funded by a company (with a funding match from MF3) and involves collaboration between the company and a single faculty member (or group of faculty). Targeted research projects address company needs in basic MF research and development, leading to follow-on product development and commercialization by the sponsoring company.

We are currently working in a variety of research areas. These areas are summarized below:

Sensing

  • Chemical (pH, glucose, etc.)
  • Biological (toxin, virus, etc.)
  • Physical (pressure, strain, etc.)

Actuation

  • Chemical (electroactive polymer, hydrogel, etc.)
  • Electrical (piezo thin films, etc.)
  • Magnetic (Lorenz force) ’ valves, pumps, mixing, etc.

Sample Preparation

  • 1D and 2D separation
  • Cell lysing, biomolecular conditioning/extraction
  • Sample pre-concentration

Surface Science

  • Surface modifications, chemistry
  • Surface characterization
  • Nanoscale self-assembly

Detection & Imaging Methods

  • Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS)
  • Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR)
  • Plasmonic Resonance Energy Transfer (PRET)
  • Quantum Dot Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (QDFRET)
  • Particle Imaging Velocimetry (PIV)
  • Confocal imaging
  • Ultrasound enhancement
  • Microfluidic optical components (lasers, lenses)

Bioassays

  • Cells and molecules (blood, DNA, proteins, bacteria, viruses, nanoparticles, etc.)
  • Cell & molecule manipulation, processing, evaluation
  • Cell sorting, lysing, culture, mechanics
  • Titration, concentration gradient generation

New Micro/nanofluidic Platforms

  • Micro-droplet generation, manipulation, evaluation ’ Digital Microfluidics
  • CD microfluidic platforms ’ sample prep, amplification (PCR), detection (SERS, optical)
  • Paper-based microfluidics

Novel Fabrication Processes

  • Sub-micron lithography
  • Dip-pen nanolithography
  • Carbon-MEMS (microbatteries, etc.)
  • Carbon nanotubes
  • Nanomanufacturing, nanoscale self-assembly
  • Near Field Electrospinning (direct write polymers)
  • Micromolds for hot embossing
  • Microsolidics (metals in microfluidics ’ integrated electronics, heaters, etc.)
  • Microcontact printing

Drug Delivery

  • Responsive, swallowable pills
  • Controlled release chambers
  • Transdermal drug delivery
  • Custom micro-droplets, artificial vesicles

Micro/nanoscale Fluidic Modeling

  • Liquid and gas flow
  • Fluid dynamics
  • Heat transfer
  • Particle kinetics

Manufacturing of Micro/nanofluidics

  • Hot Embossing
  • Injection Molding
  • Printed circuit board (PCB) technology

Supporting Technologies for Micro/nanofluidics

  • Fluidic interconnects and interfaces
  • Flexible electronics
  • Batteries
  • Integrated circuit design
  • Software development