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Biomicrofluidic Engineering

Master Course     529-0837-01L

What is Microfluidics

Microfluidics describes the behaviour, control and manipulation of fluids that are geometrically constrained within sub-microliter environments. The use of microfluidic devices offers an opportunity to control physical and chemical processes with unrivalled precision, and in turn provides a route to performing chemistry and biology in an ultra-fast and high-efficiency manner.

Course Aims

  • To understand why the miniaturization of basic laboratory instrumentation leads to significant gains in performance.

  • To introduce the key phenomena that dictate how fluids behave when contained within small volume systems.

  • To describe the structure, operation and performance of key microfluidic components.

  • To showcase how microfluidic tools have been used to address important problems in chemistry and biology.

  • To use the above knowledge to design microfluidic tools for specific chemical/biological applications.

Course Contents

In this yearly recurring master course, students will investigate the theoretical concepts behind microfluidic device operation, the methods of microfluidic device manufacture and the application of microfluidic architectures to important problems faced in modern-day chemical and biological analysis. A design workshop will allow students to develop new microscale flow processes by appreciating the dominant physics at the microscale. The application of these basic ideas will primarily focus on biological problems and will include treatment of diagnostic devices for use at the point-of-care, advanced functional material synthesis, DNA analysis, proteomics and cell-based assays. Lectures, assignments and the design workshop will acquaint students with the state-of-the-art in applied microfluidics.


Specific topics in the course include, but not limited to:

1. Theoretical Concepts
Features of mass and thermal transport on the microscale
Key scaling laws

2. Microfluidic Device Manufacture
Conventional lithographic processing of rigid materials
Soft lithographic processing of plastics and polymers
Mass fabrication of polymeric devices

3. Unit operations and functional components
Analytical separations (electrophoresis and chromatography)
Chemical and biological synthesis
Sample pre-treatment (filtration, SPE, pre-concentration)
Molecular detection

4. Design Workshop
Design of microfluidic architectures for PCR, distillation & mixing

5. Contemporary Applications in Biological Analysis
Cellular analyses (single cells, enzymatic assays, cell sorting)

6. System integration
Applications in radiochemistry, diagnostics and high-throughput experimentation

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