MST Programme

Development of a New Model Simulating the Manufacturing Processes of Polymer-based Microfluidic Devices

A team of MST researchers – led by Prof Yue Chee-Yoon of NUS and David E Hardt of MIT – has developed a highly accurate and detailed model that simulates the micro-hot-embossing and thermal bonding processes in the manufacture of polymer-based micro-fluidic devices.

Microfluidic devices are used in a wide range of industries; some examples of systems and processes that employ the use of these devices include genetic analysis, electro-chromatography, chemical synthesis and biochemical assays.

The model that the team has created provides a basic understanding of the processing characteristics of the polymers used in these devices at the micron and sub-micron scale. More importantly, the model also allows users to better comprehend process mechanics, surface modification and layer bonding methods as well as principles of equipment design, automation and control.

The team believes that the model they have come up with will lead to significant improvements in the design and manufacture of microfluidic devices, especially in terms of metal-embossing methods, which will allow for stronger and possibly cheaper tools to be produced.

As the team continues their research in the upcoming year, they aim to use the information that they have garnered from this new model to develop novel processes that can be incorporated into the microfluidic production system and tested for robustness.