The Microfab/Lab facilitates the development of new micromanufacturing technologies for use in life sciences applications.
Hidden in the human body, the spread of cancer to other organs is a process that is difficult to fathom. Organs-on-a-chip give researchers the opportunity to study at microscale how cancer cells behave. Enabling scientists to work affordably and at speed, this device is an arrangement of tiny channels on a chip. Membranes allow the cancer cells to move from one channel to the next. The way in which this happens illuminates the behavior of these cells in the body. The Microfab/Lab enabled the development of this new measuring instrument.
The organ-on-a-chip is just one of many projects. The laboratory is also facilitating the development of new equipment for medical analysis requiring only a few droplets of blood. Scientists are working on new methods of water purification, and on minuscule engines for lithography machines. In short, the laboratory offers first-rate production facilities for the development of new micromanufacturing technologies in the life sciences.
Unique combination of technologies
Many research institutions have a production facility that specializes in a single technology. Here, by contrast, various technologies are present at a single location, ranging from a cleanroom for lithography to sophisticated 3D printers, and from laser manufacturing to a room designed for working with biological cells. This combination makes the Microfab/Lab unique and enables an otherwise difficult feature: combining technical manufacturing processes with biochemical steps.
As an example, in a cleanroom, channels can be etched on a chip prior to carrying out a surface treatment that enables cell growth. This is uniquely possible in the Microfab/Lab. In this dynamic environment, permanent equipment is complemented by the flexibility to adapt facilities to suit new research directions.
The researchers working here on their projects come mainly from the departments of Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Chemical Engineering and Chemistry. Various disciplines come together under one roof, encouraging cross-fertilization and innovation. The Microfab/Lab cooperates closely with other laboratories at TU/e, such as the ICMS Molecular Analysis Laboratory and the Laboratory for Cell & Tissue Engineering.
The laboratory accommodates research conducted in cooperation with external research partners. TU/e researchers cooperate here with companies such as ASML, Bionchip, MA3 Solutions, Philips and Synapse. Also with research institutions such as Leiden University Medical Center, the hDMT and TNO. Interested parties should contact Sheen SahebAli.