Fabrication of a low cost microfluidic bioreactor

# students: 1 or 2
# master thesis’s: 1
Promotor 1: Erwin Bosman 
Promotor 2:
Jan Vanfleteren

Supervisor 1: Rik Verplancke

Supervisor 2: Lothar Mader

Contact person: Erwin Bosman

Erasmus Mundus Master of Science in Photonics, European Master of Science in Photonics, Master in de Ingenieurswetenschappen: Fotonica, Master in de Ingenieurswetenschappen: Elektrotechniek, Master in de Ingenieurswetenschappen: Toegepaste Natuurkunde

Keywords: micromolding, microfluidics, bioreactor, cell culture

Problem statement:

In almost any biomedical and pharmaceutical research, there exists a need for cell culture in order to obtain a large multiplicity of original cells. Cell culture is the complex process by which cells (animals, plants, fungi, insects and microbes, …) are grown under controlled conditions outside of their natural environment. Mass culture of animal cell lines is fundamental to the manufacture of viral vaccines, anticancer agents and many other products of biotechnology. The current process of doing so is however labour intensive, costly and time consuming.

In an effort to automate these well established techniques on a miniaturized scale and in a highly scalable way, a lot of research have been performed on the use of microfluidics and so called lab-on-chip devices. These devices are called bioreactors and contain microscopic containers for the cells and fluidic channels to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the cells in real-time in order to grow. Furthermore, the cells are immobilized on top of a porous membrane that not only immobilizes the cells but also let the nutrients pass the cells as well.

This thesis will be focussing on the realization of these devices using the most established mass production technique in the world: injection molding. Since the structures are very small (tens of microns), the molding process is called micromolding and is performed by a state-of-the-art molding machine with ultra precise control of the injection speed, volume, pressure, temperature, etc.


Thesis Goal:

The overall aim of this thesis is to realize a polymer bioreactor using micro-injection molding as a fabrication technique.

Image: Demonstrator of a bioreactor demo microfluidic circuit, fabricatedusing photolithography and overmolding (courtesy of CMST)

Image 2: Example of a multilayer build-up for a microfluidic bioreactor(courtesy of CMST)

The student will design a microfluidic bioreactor chip and fabricate the negative mold master in the CMST cleanrooms on campus Ardoyen in Zwijnaarde.

This mold master will be integrated in the Wittmann-Battenfeld full-automatic micro injection molder. The influence of the different injection molding process parameters on the quality and the reproducibility of the produced parts will be assessed.

Finally the microfluidic parts will be demonstrated and characterized.

The thesis work primarily comprises of the following tasks:

1)      Design of a microfluidic bioreactor.

2)      Fabrication of the inverse mold master

3)      Assessment of the micro injection molding process

4)      Demonstration and characterization of the bioreactors


Location: Ardoyen (clean rooms) and home

Erwin Bosman,
Mar 13, 2014, 4:20 AM
Erwin Bosman,
Mar 13, 2014, 4:20 AM