nan.zhang@ucd.ie

+353 (0)1 716 1989

Centre of Micro/Nano Manufacturing Technology (MNMT-Dublin) 

School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering

University College Dublin,

Belfield Dublin 4, Dublin, Ireland

Home / Research / plastic microfluidics

plastic microfluidics

The microfluidics market is expected to reach USD 27.91 Billion by 2023 from an estimated USD 10.06 Billion in 2018, at a CAGR of 22.6%, according to market analysis from "markets and markets".  Plastic materials are the most used materials for fabrication of microfluidic devices. 

Our group has full process chain for fabrication of plastic microfluidics. We aim to bridge laboratory research with mass production by solving critical manufacturing challenges for you

Our commercialization activity can be found in our promotion website MiNanTechnologies (https://www.minan-tech.com).

What We Can Do.

 

fabrication of micro/nano mould tools

We have three main tooling process development in our group:

  • Precision electroforming of nickel tools

  • Multi-scale tooling of bulk metallic glasses 

  • Large-area nanostructured tools

 

Our research in tooling is focusing on understanding the fabrication process such as precision electroforming with requirements, such as high precision and high flatness,  driven from applications, such as microfluidics. Fundamentals including ion transportation,  residual stress building up, nanomaterial reinforcement and nanoscale electrodeposition are studied. The research includes:

  • Large-area, thick electroformed precision mould development 

  • High-performance multi-scale tool development 

  • Advanced application towards microfluidic and functional surfaces 

 

We also develop bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) as platform materials to integrate multi-scale features, thanks to its amorphous nature. Nano feature of 80nm was patterned on BMGs and replicated on polymer without any problem.

  • Materials development 

  • Precision micro/nano forming processes 

  • Material characterization and applications

 

Our large-area freeform nanostructured tools based on anodization of aluminium.

showcase

Submicron arrays mould made by BMG

Nickel moulds with 300um height inverted channels

Precision machined stainless steel mould with multi-step features from 80um to 500um

Nickel mould with inverted channel size 60 um

Nickel mould with minimum channel size 80micron, aspect ratio ~3

Large-area nanostructured aluminium mould

 

 precision replication

Microinjection moulding is one of the most used production process for fabrication of plastic micro/nano components with low cost, high efficiency and complex 3D geometry. Microinjection moulded products can be categorized into two group: miniature products and surface micro/nano structures. 

 

  • Our research on micro component focuses on extreme processing on morphology and properties of micro components, which leads to an important understanding on flow-induced crystallization control of properties of micro components from both processing and materials. This is critically important for medical devices, such as microneedles and stents. 

 

  • Our research on surface micro/nano structures focuses on development precision micro/nano mould tools and precision replication of micro/nanostructures and freeforms. From replication side, we are developing new processes for precision replications. Our existing moulding process includes:

          -Variotherm assisted injection moulding

          -In-mould micro compression 

     

We aim to understand more on polymer replication process both feature design, process, materials and interfacial effects through experimental study and numerical simulation.

      

This will lead to novel process development for fabrication micro/nano structures for various applications, such as microfluidicsmicro optics and functional surfaces

showcase

Numerical simulation of microstructure replication for Microfluidic devices

Precision injection moulding of microfluidic

Microinjection moulding of miniature tensile specimen

Precision injection moulding of micro arrays and high aspect ratio features

Precision injection moulding of microfluidics

Microinjection moulding of sub 100nm structures

 

 back-end process development  

Our team is also working on back-end processes for fabrication of microfluidic devices. It includes precision bonding, electrode development, surface treatment of polymers and other processes specified with our microfluidic projects. For this area, the research will focus on manufacturing challenges:

  • High precision bonding mechanism study and process development 

  • Electrode fabrication

  • Surface modification of polymers for high reliability fabrication of plastic microfluidic