Micro-nanofluidics integration


Our research activity aims at developing micro/nanofluidic platforms dedicated to chemical and biological applications. The activity has targeted two major challenges:
  • The multi functional integration for lab on chip applications or chemical process intensification.

  • The exploration of nanoscale mechanisms in order to propose new functional concepts and to investigate the bioworld at the molecular scale.

Our applications are mostly focused on environment, separation science, diphasic flows and cellular biology.


Multifunctional integration

After a 5 years effort, we have developed robust processes for micro and nano channels fabrication in glass, silicon, and polymer materials. Regarding polymeric systems, SU-8 was used as a structural material, and original methods to fabricate 3D microfluidic networks were proposed. We were the first to demonstrate surface micromachining of SU8 structural layers and to propose a lamination based fabrication method for the realization of 3D assemblies or multilevel microchanels network. In addition, using advanced MEMS technologies, we demonstrated the direct integration of microcoils in the polymeric matrix and obtained magneto-fluidic devices for magnetic particles sorting and manipulation.


Fig. 5 : Su8 multilevel stacked fluidic pipes and traversing vias with high aspect ratio (500µm deep/10 µm )


Fig. 6 : Full polymer microfluidic system integrating microelectromagnets for magnetic sorting and trapping

Thermal actuators and sensors were also engineered and incorporated inside microchannels in order to monitor the local environment of biomolecules. This technology was combined to smart thermally responsive polymers (PNIPAM), and trapping/release operations could be performed with proteins in aqueous environment.

Silicon fluidic devices have found applications as miniaturiazed catalytic reactors, which showed great potential for removal of air pollutants such as Volatil Organic Compounds (acetone, toluene).


Fig. 7 : Left) Ingrated Lab on Chip for 3D live cell imaging. (Middle) V-grooves for stereovision imaging. (Right) Two yeasts obsreved with their reflected images with our Lab-on-Chip.


More recently, we devised Lab-on-Chip for high-throughput air droplets generation. These diphasic systems will be used to deflect light, and to implement new opto-fluidic systems. An original and patented fluidic device for 3D imaging in living cells was also integrated by combining silicon micro-machining and stereovision methods. This technology allows for the fastest 3D detection in small living specimens such as yeasts or bacteria (Figure 7).

Nanofluidics

Although microfluidics remains an active field of research involving a large corpus of researchers worldwide, the field of nanofluidics has been rapidly growing in the past 3 years. Given our experience in microfabrication, we decided to devise nanofluidic systems for life sciences applications and to gain insights on the nanoscale physics of fluid flows.

We have established processes to fabricate multi-scale devices with structural elements from the millimeter to the nanometer scale. Notably, we reached state-of-the-art precisions to produce 200-nm nano-channels over large fields, and our protocols are now exploited by other research groups of LAAS.

We intend to elucidate the molecular mechanism driving liquids inside nano-channels, which involve nano-scale physics at the liquid/glass interface. We also aim at fabricating new nanofluidic devices for life sciences applications, and in particular for the parallel manipulation of individual biomolecules (see prospective).

Our preliminary results show that nanoscale flows, which are driven by capillary forces, are fast ~1-100 µm/s. Their control in nanofluidic devices paves the way to diphasic mixing in still unexplored geometries, and to the development of new optical systems.

This research axis leads us to build partnership relations:
  • Inside the LAAS:
    • Opto fluidic diphasic flow (PHOTO partnership),
    • Nanochannels and Nanowires (NBS partnership).
  • National level:
    • ANR-PNano (Nanodrive, Nanobiosensor, Chromatomopinces), ACI-NMAC (Nanolab, Nanofluo) , ACI-Nanoscience (Samflu), ANR jeune chercheur Replichip, CNRS Prise de Risque (Replichip, 07/07) and (3D Cell, 03/09), Région (Thermofeel).
  • International level:
    • Egide- MERLION (Univ. Singapour),
    • PRC-CNRS (Univ. NTU TAIWAN)
  • Industry :
    • RHODIA, PIERRE FABRE