Microfluidic Workstation (MW)

The MW boosts your Organ-on-a-Chip project by integrating a pipet robot with flowthrough cells and phase contrast microscope.

Engineering Services

Wether you need a complex microfluidic cartridge or just surface coating: Check the second/third tabs below to learn about our services.

Microfluidics – Services for Design, Manufacturing, Instrumentation

Integrating the Worlds of Micro- and Macrotechnology

Wether you need just a cell friendly coating on your slides or a complex automatic lab: GeSiM is your one-stop shop for instrumentation in life science. Our expertise is based on more than twenty years engineering of microfluidic systems. Our strength is the completion of these small components with powerful robots, innovative software and “classical” lab hardware (pumps, valves).

Here we present a fully automatic lab for culturing of cells and organoids. The next tab “3D Structuring” outlines basic services for customized microfluidic flow-through cells. “Chips & Services” is your source of information for specific engineering services.

Please don’t miss the MicCell, a separate GeSiM product line for polymer microfluidics with microscope interface.

Microfluidic Multi Cell Cultivation with Automatic Sample Handling

The Microfluidic Workstation (MW) is a benchtop robot with “flying” work deck. It is made to operate small transparent bio containments, e.g. SBS well format objects, microfluidic cartridges and others. It features two tool heads for optical inspection in both directions. The upper tool head operates all GeSiM made tools for liquid handling, Nanolitre pipetting and paste dispensing. Full 3d printing is given by the modular approach of GeSiM instruments. The recesses of the work decks accept carriers for arbitrary target formats.

The MW can be configured for applications like in-vitro tissue engineering, multi-cell cultivation, single cell handling and microarraying. It fits into biosafety cabinets. Other safety enclosures are available on request.

2-level-Lab work deck with multi-organ-chips and 96well plates (middle)

Microfluidic Workstation: Elevated “flying” work deck with trays for multi-organ-chips (left) and 96well plates (middle)

The configuration above accommodates an array of Multi-Organ-Chips (MOCs) on the left tray. Each MOC hooks up to a separate control unit for media and temperature adjustment. The MOC design can be adapted to different applications. For more details on the MOCs please click the tab “Applications”. The MOCs resulted from a joint research project with Fraunhofer IWS, Dresden.

Examples of MOCs:

Hypoxia assay

Hypoxia assay

Hypoxia Assay

  • Oxygen control directly on culture media
  • External gas mixer
  • Gas permeable membrane for in/output
Systemic toxicity assay

Systemic toxicity assay

Systemic toxicity testing

  • Two parallel-connected cell culture chambers (3), reservoir (2)
  • 3-point-peristaltic-pump (1), inlet and outlet valves (4)
  • Temperature controlled support

The measurement cameras can be configured to different detection methods, e.g. fluorescence microscopy, phase contrast microscopy and turbidity measurement for ELISA.

Yeast cells in a SBS well plate - bottom view. The picking capillary orifice is at the upper edge.

Yeast cells in a SBS well plate – bottom view. The picking capillary orifice is at the upper edge.

The software of the MW recognizes single cells, differentiating from optical artefacts.

The software of the MW recognizes single cells, differentiating from optical artefacts.

Sandwich Structures for Microfluidic Manifolds

GeSiM offers different approaches for micromachining of 3D structures. Microfluidic devices are easily made from silicon/glass sandwiches. However, many applications require optical transparent channel structures. Glass/glass sandwiches are precise but more expensive and give high accuracy.

PDMS microfluidics keeps prices close to disposables but requires more initial instrumentation. Please refer to the GeSiM MicCell or even the Micro-Contact-Printers. The latter one prints your microfluidic devices (NIL – Nano-Imprint-Lithography) including sample handling by onboard pipettors.

Different sandwich methods for microfluidic devices

Different sandwich methods for microfluidic devices

3D Microfluidics from Hard Materials

  • Anisotropic wet-chemical etching of Si with KOH: inexpensive batch process, smooth surface, side wall angle depends on crystal orientation
  • Anisotropic plasma-enhanced dry Si etching (ASE/Bosch process): single wafers, dense structures, vertical side walls
  • Super-rough surfaces by etching in SF6/C4F8 plasma
  • Isotropic wet etching of glass with HF: round channels, 3 – 700 µm deep
  • Ultrasonic drilling and micro-blasting for 150 – 1000 µm thick glass, Si, quartz
Etched channel structure of a micromachined sieve

Etched channel structure of a micromachined sieve

KOH etched sieve structure

KOH etched sieve structure

Micro pores, realized by ASE at presence of insulated platinum electrodes

Micro pores, realized by ASE at presence of insulated platinum electrodes

GeSiM dispenser structure: View from the pump chamber of the fluid inlet

GeSiM dispenser structure: View from the pump chamber of the fluid inlet

Photoemulsion Masks with your Design

We supply cost effective photo emulsion masks for patterns down to 25 microns. Smaller features are available with chrome masks from an external source. The photo emulsion masks are based on glass substrates 5″ x 5″ as well as on films of diverse sizes.

If desired we also offer CAD services for your particular application.

Design Guidelines – Technical Information on the GeSiM Mask Service

We accept CAD data accordingly to the following rules, as well as create plot files based on your specs.

Supported data formats

  • AutoCAD™ DXF up to release 12 (preferred),
  • Gerber RS 274X,
  • GDS-II, CIF.
Lithopgraphy equipment (Left), photoemulsion mask (Right)

Lithography equipment (Left), photoemulsion mask (Right)

Design guidelines

For 5” masks, the plotting area is restricted to 100 mm x 100 mm. For a centered image on the mask, the outer dimensions of the drawing must be exactly 100 mm x 100 mm. Placing of four small squares (e.g. 50 microns x 50 microns) in the corners of the layout supports this contraint.

In DXF files, please use only solids, circles and closed polylines with a width of zero. These patterns will be filled by our software. Do not try to fill them with the hatch command. Avoid “islands”, try to split complex figures in separate parts instead. For text information, use only the text command, never dtext or mtext. Please set the font to txt.shx.

Download our sample file as a design template.

Thin Film Services – Coating Technologies

GeSiM offers the deposition of conducting and insulating films by

  • Physical Vapor Deposition
  • Plasma-Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition
  • Screen Printing

Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) by Magnetron Sputtering and Electron Beam Deposition

Can be applied to different materials:

  • Conductive materials: Aluminum (Al), titanium (Ti), platinum (Pt), tantalum (Ta):- Thickness from 0 to 200 Nanometers.
    – Resistance in the micro ohm range.
    – Patterning by lift-off and etching technologies.
    – Single-layer or multi-layer coating of these materials.
  • Conductive and transparent material ITO-90/10 (90% indium oxide In2O3 and 10% tin oxide SnO2):
    – Thickness from 20 to 200 Nanometers.
    – Resistance from 30 to 50 Ohm.
    – Patterning by lift-off and etching technologies.
  • Evaporated quartz SixOy, coated at 150° C.

Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (PECVD)

  • Silicon oxide SiO2, silicon nitride Si3N4 and low stress oxinitride SixOyNz as alternative insulator materials:
    –  Thickness from 20 Nanometers to 1.5 Microns.
    – Patterning by RIE dry etching and wet chemical etching.
  • Hydrofluorocarbon CxFy layers. Material similar to Teflon®:
    – Thickness range from 50 Nanometers to 2 Microns.
    – Patterning by O2 RIE plasma etching.

PVD and PECVD applies to all kind of substrates up to 4 inch diameter.

Screen Printing

  • Dispensing of the state of the art adhesives on printed circuit boards and micro system substrates for surface mounted device packaging.
  • Dispensing of silicon rubber.
  • Includes sieve design and production.
  • Typical thickness of printed materials in the range of 15 to 35 Microns.

Bonding – Connecting Microfluidic Chips with and without Glue

In order to achieve closed fludic channels MEMS technologies offers different – material dependent – methods. The GeSiM engineering service covers:

  • Anodic bonding
  • Silicon fusion bonding
  • Die bonding using adhesives
  • Wire bonding

Anodic Bonding

  • This process generates very tightly connected layers, produced by the application of high voltage and high temperature, and is ideal for the irreversible covering of microfluidic channels.
  • Bonding of double and triple sandwiches of silicon and Pyrex glass
  • Maximal substrate diameter: 4 inches (10 cm)
  • Process temperature between 300°C and 450°C.
  • Bonding with or without prealignment. Aligning accuracy ≥ 5 microns.
  • Bonding of insulator (Silicon oxide SiO2 or Silicon nitride Si3N4) silicon surfaces.

Silicon Fusion Bonding

  • Adhesive bonding after wet chemical pretreatment of substrates in strong acids
  • For double sandwiches of (micro-machined) silicon
  • Maximal substrate diameter: 4 inches (10 cm)
  • Process temperature between 950°C and 1100°C u