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Advanced Microfluidic Packaging for Molecular Diagnostics
Keywords: microfluidics, lab-on-chip, molecular diagnostics
Since its inception in the late 70s the Ink-Jet technology has been one of the most successful innovation stories, disrupting established markets and enabling new applications and businesses. In more recent years Ink-Jet technology, by far the most mature and pervasive MEMS-based product in the market, has been leading the way to many microfluidic applications. Which have thrived on the large knowledge base in electronic-fluid interaction, system integration and packaging. Among the most important microfluidic applications today, we can identify products in the Bio-Medical field, often divided into Delivery Systems (i.e spray devices, micro/nano pumps) and Bio Chips (i.e. microarray chips, bio sensors, lab-on-chip). Generally these products comprise a silicon-based core active device housed in a specialty microfluidic package, also referred to as cartridge. Differently from most typical IC technologies, one underlying motif of these products is the fact that the microfluidic package is a key component of the micro-system, embedding critical features and functionalities of the application. A classical microfluidic system partitioning includes i/ core silicon device, ii/ electrical substrate, iii/ microfluidic cartridge. Integration, scalability and manufacturability of these three layers is crucial for the commercialization of these product families. In-CheckTM is ST lab-on-chip platform targeting the market of molecular diagnostics. With its first-generation product announced last March this platform is now entering in the commercial phase and being employed in selected labs in Singapore. ST has teamed up with Boehringer Ingelheim microParts GmbH to develop In-CheckTM second generation disposable product. This format represents a substantial step forward in the system integration and easy-of-use. Indeed all the microfluidic steps in the application protocols are fully automated, thanks to the hybrid integration of the core silicon chip with a microfluidic cartridge. In-CheckTM cartridge is a plastic-based self-contained embodiment which integrates a variety of design elements and components, including liquid loading and waste reservoirs, connecting micro-channels, two sets of valves one set to tight-seal biochemical reactors and the other set for fluid routing, hydrophobic membranes, fluorescent read-out window. The manufacturing flow makes use of a variety of materials and processes, particularly suited for series production, such as injection molding, lamination, precision pick-and-place. This speech will present the disposable product concept, key components and functionality together with the design and manufacturing challenges, with particular focus on the microfluidic cartridge and micro-system assembly.
Michele Palmieri, R&D Director
Portland, OR

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