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Micromachines, Volume 12, Issue 3 (March 2021) – 120 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): This study aims to develop a miniaturized CMOS-integrated silicon-based microfluidic system, compatible with a standard CMOS process, to enable the characterization and manipulation of live and dead yeast cells (as model for bio-particle organisms) using the DEP technique. One of the most critical issues related to DEP-based microfluidic devices is that the targeted cells' DEP spectra should accurately be known. In this research, DEP spectrum analysis of various cell suspensions with various medium conductivities were investigated thoroughly by finite element simulation and experimentally. This study presented an optimized trapping platform for both cell detection and separation applications based on the distinct responses of live and dead cells and their surrounding media. The findings confirmed the device’s capability for efficient, rapid and selective cell separation. View this [...] Read more.
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Article
Rapid Fabrication of Microfluidic Devices for Biological Mimicking: A Survey of Materials and Biocompatibility
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 346; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030346 - 23 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1004
Abstract
Microfluidics is an essential technique used in the development of in vitro models for mimicking complex biological systems. The microchip with microfluidic flows offers the precise control of the microenvironment where the cells can grow and structure inside channels to resemble in vivo [...] Read more.
Microfluidics is an essential technique used in the development of in vitro models for mimicking complex biological systems. The microchip with microfluidic flows offers the precise control of the microenvironment where the cells can grow and structure inside channels to resemble in vivo conditions allowing a proper cellular response investigation. Hence, this study aimed to develop low-cost, simple microchips to simulate the shear stress effect on the human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). Differentially from other biological microfluidic devices described in the literature, we used readily available tools like heat-lamination, toner printer, laser cutter and biocompatible double-sided adhesive tapes to bind different layers of materials together, forming a designed composite with a microchannel. In addition, we screened alternative substrates, including polyester-toner, polyester-vinyl, glass, Permanox® and polystyrene to compose the microchips for optimizing cell adhesion, then enabling these microdevices when coupled to a syringe pump, the cells can withstand the fluid shear stress range from 1 to 4 dyne cm2. The cell viability was monitored by acridine orange/ethidium bromide (AO/EB) staining to detect live and dead cells. As a result, our fabrication processes were cost-effective and straightforward. The materials investigated in the assembling of the microchips exhibited good cell viability and biocompatibility, providing a dynamic microenvironment for cell proliferation. Therefore, we suggest that these microchips could be available everywhere, allowing in vitro assays for daily laboratory experiments and further developing the organ-on-a-chip concept. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Versatile Organ-on-a-Chip Devices)
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Review
Optical Detection Methods for High-Throughput Fluorescent Droplet Microflow Cytometry
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 345; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030345 - 23 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 784
Abstract
High-throughput microflow cytometry has become a focal point of research in recent years. In particular, droplet microflow cytometry (DMFC) enables the analysis of cells reacting to different stimuli in chemical isolation due to each droplet acting as an isolated microreactor. Furthermore, at high [...] Read more.
High-throughput microflow cytometry has become a focal point of research in recent years. In particular, droplet microflow cytometry (DMFC) enables the analysis of cells reacting to different stimuli in chemical isolation due to each droplet acting as an isolated microreactor. Furthermore, at high flow rates, the droplets allow massive parallelization, further increasing the throughput of droplets. However, this novel methodology poses unique challenges related to commonly used fluorometry and fluorescent microscopy techniques. We review the optical sensor technology and light sources applicable to DMFC, as well as analyze the challenges and advantages of each option, primarily focusing on electronics. An analysis of low-cost and/or sufficiently compact systems that can be incorporated into portable devices is also presented. Full article
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Article
Orthogonality Measurement of Three-Axis Motion Trajectories for Micromanipulation Robot Systems
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 344; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030344 - 23 Mar 2021
Viewed by 489
Abstract
In robotic micromanipulation systems, the orthogonality of the three-axis motion trajectories of the motion control systems influences the accuracy of micromanipulation. A method of measuring and evaluating the orthogonality of three-axis motion trajectories is proposed in this paper. Firstly, a system for three-axis [...] Read more.
In robotic micromanipulation systems, the orthogonality of the three-axis motion trajectories of the motion control systems influences the accuracy of micromanipulation. A method of measuring and evaluating the orthogonality of three-axis motion trajectories is proposed in this paper. Firstly, a system for three-axis motion trajectory measurement is developed and an orthogonal reference coordinate system is designed. The influence of the assembly error of laser displacement sensors on the reference coordinate system is analyzed using simulation. An approach to estimating the orthogonality of three-axis motion trajectories and to compensating for its error is presented using spatial line fitting and vector operation. The simulation results show that when the assembly angle of the laser displacement sensors is limited within a range of 10°, the relative angle deviation of the coordinate axes of the reference coordinate frame is approximately 0.09%. The experiment results show that precision of spatial line fitting is approximately 0.02 mm and relative error of the orthogonality measurement is approximately 0.3%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue AI for Manufacturing of Micro and Nano-Structures and Devices)
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Article
Research on the Mechanism of Micro-Water Jet-Guided Laser Precision Drilling in Metal Sheet
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 343; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030343 - 23 Mar 2021
Viewed by 557
Abstract
As the microporous structure has been widely used in the field of precision machining, at the same time, the requirements for the quality of microporous machining are continuously increasing. Water jet-guide laser processing technology (WJGL) has been gradually applied for its high machining [...] Read more.
As the microporous structure has been widely used in the field of precision machining, at the same time, the requirements for the quality of microporous machining are continuously increasing. Water jet-guide laser processing technology (WJGL) has been gradually applied for its high machining precision. However, there are a few researches on the heat conduction process of WJGL processing metal materials. Therefore, it is of great significance to study the transient thermal effect of metal materials and the mechanism of material removal to improve the processing quality. In order to explore the heat conduction model of WJGL processing metal materials, this paper is based on the “element birth and death” technique in the finite element method, and the three-dimensional transient temperature field of four typical metal materials (titanium alloy, stainless steel, aluminum alloy, copper) and material removal model are established. Under this model, the removal mechanism of different metal materials and the influence of different process parameters on the temperature field distribution of the material are studied, and the influence of fixed-position drilling and helix drilling on the microporous morphology is compared. The results show that copper and aluminum alloys can obtain a larger depth-to-diameter ratio and a smaller hole taper. Titanium alloy and stainless steel have better hole roundness, lower hole edge temperature, and smaller thermal deformation. Hole roundness error and hole taper decrease with the increase of laser power. The roundness error of each material is reduced to within 10 μm when the laser power is 10 W, and the average hole taper is 8.73°. Full article
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Article
Laser Spot Micro-Welding of Ultra-Thin Steel Sheet
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 342; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030342 - 23 Mar 2021
Viewed by 541
Abstract
This paper reports a mechanism understanding how to reduce the solder joint failure phenomenon in the laser spot micro-welding process of ultra-thin steel sheets. An optimization method to improve solder joint service life is proposed. In this study, the time-dependent dynamic behaviors of [...] Read more.
This paper reports a mechanism understanding how to reduce the solder joint failure phenomenon in the laser spot micro-welding process of ultra-thin steel sheets. An optimization method to improve solder joint service life is proposed. In this study, the time-dependent dynamic behaviors of the keyhole and the weld pool are simulated, and the temperatures in the keyhole of two different laser pulse waveforms are compared. The results show that laser energy attenuation mode (LEAM) can only obtain shallow weld depth because of the premature decay of the laser power of waveform, resulting in the laser beam that cannot be concentrated in the keyhole. The temperature inside the keyhole of LEAM fluctuates significantly, which shows a downward trend. Due to the existence of the peak power of waveform in laser energy continuous mode (LECM), the large angle of inclination of the wall of the keyhole inside the melt pool is more conducive to the multiple reflections of the laser beam in the keyhole and increases the absorption rate of the laser energy by the base material, resulting in the “keyhole effect”. But the temperature in the keyhole gradually rises, close to the evaporation temperature. A method combining LEAM and LECM to improve the solder joint service life by optimizing the temperature in the keyhole indirectly by adjusting the peak power of the laser pulse waveform is proposed in this study. The experimental results show that the weld depth can be optimized from 0.135 mm to 0.291 mm, and the tensile strength can be optimized from 88 MPa to 288 MPa. The bonding performance between the upper and lower plates is effectively improved. It can reach the required weld depth in a short time and improve the welding efficiency of the laser spot micro-welding process. The simulation results show that the temperature inside the keyhole is well optimized below the evaporation temperature of the material, which can avoid the violent evaporation of the welding process and keep the whole welding process in a stable state. By optimizing the laser pulse waveform, the temperature inside the keyhole can reach 3300 K, and it is always in a stable state than before optimization. The stable temperature inside the keyhole can help to reduce violent oscillation and spattering of the molten pool and improve welding efficiency and joint life. The research can help provide effective process guidance for the optimization of different laser pulse waveforms in the micro-welding process. Full article
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Article
Dielectrowetting Control of Capillary Force (Cheerios Effect) between Floating Objects and Wall for Dielectric Fluid
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 341; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030341 - 23 Mar 2021
Viewed by 601
Abstract
A capillary interaction between floating objects and adjacent walls, which is known as “Cheerios effect”, is a common phenomenon that generates capillary attraction or repulsion forces between them depending on their wettabilities, densities, geometries, and so on. This paper deals with controlling the [...] Read more.
A capillary interaction between floating objects and adjacent walls, which is known as “Cheerios effect”, is a common phenomenon that generates capillary attraction or repulsion forces between them depending on their wettabilities, densities, geometries, and so on. This paper deals with controlling the capillary forces, specifically, acting on objects floating on a dielectric (non-conductive) fluid. A key control input parameter is the wettability (contact angle) of the sidewall adjacent to the floating object. By introducing dielectrowetting to the sidewall and actively changing the contact angle on the sidewall, the capillary force is controlled and easily reversed between attraction and repulsion. In this reversing process, the tilting angle of the sidewall is another critical parameter. A theoretical relation taking the titling angle into account is compared and in good agreement with experimental results obtained from the trajectory of the floating object. Finally, a continuous motion of the floating object is demonstrated using this control where an array of dielectrowetting electrode pads is sequentially activated. Full article
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Article
A Study of Dielectrophoresis-Based Liquid Metal Droplet Control Microfluidic Device
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 340; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030340 - 23 Mar 2021
Viewed by 676
Abstract
This study presents a dielectrophoresis-based liquid metal (LM) droplet control microfluidic device. Six square liquid metal electrodes are fabricated beneath an LM droplet manipulation pool. By applying different voltages on the different electrodes, a non-uniform electric field is formed around the LM droplet, [...] Read more.
This study presents a dielectrophoresis-based liquid metal (LM) droplet control microfluidic device. Six square liquid metal electrodes are fabricated beneath an LM droplet manipulation pool. By applying different voltages on the different electrodes, a non-uniform electric field is formed around the LM droplet, and charges are induced on the surface of the droplet accordingly, so that the droplet could be driven inside the electric field. With a voltage of ±1000 V applied on the electrodes, the LM droplets are driven with a velocity of 0.5 mm/s for the 2.0 mm diameter ones and 1.0 mm/s for the 1.0 mm diameter ones. The whole chip is made of PDMS, and microchannels are fabricated by laser ablation. In this device, the electrodes are not in direct contact with the working droplets; a thin PDMS film stays between the electrodes and the driven droplets, preventing Joule heat or bubble formation during the experiments. To enhance the flexibility of the chip design, a gallium-based alloy with melting point of 10.6 °C is used as electrode material in this device. This dielectrophoresis (DEP) device was able to successfully drive liquid metal droplets and is expected to be a flexible approach for liquid metal droplet control. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micromachines for Dielectrophoresis, Volume II)
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Review
Can 3D Printing Bring Droplet Microfluidics to Every Lab?—A Systematic Review
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 339; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030339 - 22 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1333
Abstract
In recent years, additive manufacturing has steadily gained attention in both research and industry. Applications range from prototyping to small-scale production, with 3D printing offering reduced logistics overheads, better design flexibility and ease of use compared with traditional fabrication methods. In addition, printer [...] Read more.
In recent years, additive manufacturing has steadily gained attention in both research and industry. Applications range from prototyping to small-scale production, with 3D printing offering reduced logistics overheads, better design flexibility and ease of use compared with traditional fabrication methods. In addition, printer and material costs have also decreased rapidly. These advantages make 3D printing attractive for application in microfluidic chip fabrication. However, 3D printing microfluidics is still a new area. Is the technology mature enough to print complex microchannel geometries, such as droplet microfluidics? Can 3D-printed droplet microfluidic chips be used in biological or chemical applications? Is 3D printing mature enough to be used in every research lab? These are the questions we will seek answers to in our systematic review. We will analyze (1) the key performance metrics of 3D-printed droplet microfluidics and (2) existing biological or chemical application areas. In addition, we evaluate (3) the potential of large-scale application of 3D printing microfluidics. Finally, (4) we discuss how 3D printing and digital design automation could trivialize microfluidic chip fabrication in the long term. Based on our analysis, we can conclude that today, 3D printers could already be used in every research lab. Printing droplet microfluidics is also a possibility, albeit with some challenges discussed in this review. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Nano Fabrication for Life Sciences)
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Article
Optimal n-Type Al-Doped ZnO Overlayers for Charge Transport Enhancement in p-Type Cu2O Photocathodes
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 338; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030338 - 22 Mar 2021
Viewed by 696
Abstract
An effective strategy for improving the charge transport efficiency of p-type Cu2O photocathodes is the use of counter n-type semiconductors with a proper band alignment, preferably using Al-doped ZnO (AZO). Atomic layer deposition (ALD)-prepared AZO films show an increase in the [...] Read more.
An effective strategy for improving the charge transport efficiency of p-type Cu2O photocathodes is the use of counter n-type semiconductors with a proper band alignment, preferably using Al-doped ZnO (AZO). Atomic layer deposition (ALD)-prepared AZO films show an increase in the built-in potential at the Cu2O/AZO interface as well as an excellent conformal coating with a thin thickness on irregular Cu2O. Considering the thin thickness of the AZO overlayers, it is expected that the composition of the Al and the layer stacking sequence in the ALD process will significantly influence the charge transport behavior and the photoelectrochemical (PEC) performance. We designed various stacking orders of AZO overlayers where the stacking layers consisted of Al2O3 (or Al) and ZnO using the atomically controlled ALD process. Al doping in ZnO results in a wide bandgap and does not degrade the absorption efficiency of Cu2O. The best PEC performance was obtained for the sample with an AZO overlayer containing conductive Al layers in the bottom and top regions. The Cu2O/AZO/TiO2/Pt photoelectrode with this overlayer exhibits an open circuit potential of 0.63 V and maintains a high cathodic photocurrent value of approximately −3.2 mA cm−2 at 0 VRHE for over 100 min. Full article
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Review
Triboelectric Effect Enabled Self-Powered, Point-of-Care Diagnostics: Opportunities for Developing ASSURED and REASSURED Devices
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 337; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030337 - 22 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 868
Abstract
The use of rapid point-of-care (PoC) diagnostics in conjunction with physiological signal monitoring has seen tremendous progress in their availability and uptake, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). However, to truly overcome infrastructural and resource constraints, there is an urgent need for [...] Read more.
The use of rapid point-of-care (PoC) diagnostics in conjunction with physiological signal monitoring has seen tremendous progress in their availability and uptake, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). However, to truly overcome infrastructural and resource constraints, there is an urgent need for self-powered devices which can enable on-demand and/or continuous monitoring of patients. The past decade has seen the rapid rise of triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) as the choice for high-efficiency energy harvesting for developing self-powered systems as well as for use as sensors. This review provides an overview of the current state of the art of such wearable sensors and end-to-end solutions for physiological and biomarker monitoring. We further discuss the current constraints and bottlenecks of these devices and systems and provide an outlook on the development of TENG-enabled PoC/monitoring devices that could eventually meet criteria formulated specifically for use in LMICs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Triboelectric Energy Harvesters)
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Article
A Novel Microfluidic Device for Blood Plasma Filtration
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 336; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030336 - 22 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1115
Abstract
The use of whole blood and some biological specimens, such as urine, saliva, and seminal fluid are limited in clinical laboratory analysis due to the interference of proteins with other small molecules in the matrix and blood cells with optical detection methods. Previously, [...] Read more.
The use of whole blood and some biological specimens, such as urine, saliva, and seminal fluid are limited in clinical laboratory analysis due to the interference of proteins with other small molecules in the matrix and blood cells with optical detection methods. Previously, we developed a microfluidic device featuring an electrokinetic size and mobility trap (SMT) for on-chip extract, concentrate, and separate small molecules from a biological sample like whole blood. The device was used to on-chip filtrate the whole blood from the blood cells and plasma proteins and then on-chip extract and separate the aminoglycoside antibiotic drugs within 3 min. Herein, a novel microfluidic device featuring a nano-junction similar to those reported in the previous work formed by dielectric breakdown was developed for on-chip filtration and out-chip collection of blood plasma with a high extraction yield of 62% within less than 5 min. The filtered plasma was analyzed using our previous device to show the ability of this new device to remove blood cells and plasma proteins. The filtration device shows a high yield of plasma allowing it to detect a low concentration of analytes from the whole blood. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Nano Devices for Blood Analysis, Volume II)
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Article
Liquid–Liquid Flows with Non-Newtonian Dispersed Phase in a T-Junction Microchannel
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 335; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030335 - 22 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 531
Abstract
Immiscible liquid–liquid flows in microchannels are used extensively in various chemical and biological lab-on-a-chip systems when it is very important to predict the expected flow pattern for a variety of fluids and channel geometries. Commonly, biological and other complex liquids express non-Newtonian properties [...] Read more.
Immiscible liquid–liquid flows in microchannels are used extensively in various chemical and biological lab-on-a-chip systems when it is very important to predict the expected flow pattern for a variety of fluids and channel geometries. Commonly, biological and other complex liquids express non-Newtonian properties in a dispersed phase. Features and behavior of such systems are not clear to date. In this paper, immiscible liquid–liquid flow in a T-shaped microchannel was studied by means of high-speed visualization, with an aim to reveal the shear-thinning effect on the flow patterns and slug-flow features. Three shear-thinning and three Newtonian fluids were used as dispersed phases, while Newtonian castor oil was a continuous phase. For the first time, the influence of the non-Newtonian dispersed phase on the transition from segmented to continuous flow is shown and quantitatively described. Flow-pattern maps were constructed using nondimensional complex We0.4·Oh0.6 depicting similarity in the continuous-to-segmented flow transition line. Using available experimental data, the proposed nondimensional complex is shown to be effectively applied for flow-pattern map construction when the continuous phase exhibits non-Newtonian properties as well. The models to evaluate an effective dynamic viscosity of a shear-thinning fluid are discussed. The most appropriate model of average-shear-rate estimation based on bulk velocity was chosen and applied to evaluate an effective dynamic viscosity of a shear-thinning fluid. For a slug flow, it was found that in the case of shear-thinning dispersed phase at low flow rates of both phases, a jetting regime of slug formation was established, leading to a dramatic increase in slug length. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microfluids in Microchannels)
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Article
Improved Performance of Electron Blocking Layer Free AlGaN Deep Ultraviolet Light-Emitting Diodes Using Graded Staircase Barriers
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 334; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030334 - 21 Mar 2021
Viewed by 717
Abstract
To prevent electron leakage in deep ultraviolet (UV) AlGaN light-emitting diodes (LEDs), Al-rich p-type AlxGa(1−x)N electron blocking layer (EBL) has been utilized. However, the conventional EBL can mitigate the electron overflow only up to some extent and adversely, [...] Read more.
To prevent electron leakage in deep ultraviolet (UV) AlGaN light-emitting diodes (LEDs), Al-rich p-type AlxGa(1−x)N electron blocking layer (EBL) has been utilized. However, the conventional EBL can mitigate the electron overflow only up to some extent and adversely, holes are depleted in the EBL due to the formation of positive sheet polarization charges at the heterointerface of the last quantum barrier (QB)/EBL. Subsequently, the hole injection efficiency of the LED is severely limited. In this regard, we propose an EBL-free AlGaN deep UV LED structure using graded staircase quantum barriers (GSQBs) instead of conventional QBs without affecting the hole injection efficiency. The reported structure exhibits significantly reduced thermal velocity and mean free path of electrons in the active region, thus greatly confines the electrons over there and tremendously decreases the electron leakage into the p-region. Moreover, such specially designed QBs reduce the quantum-confined Stark effect in the active region, thereby improves the electron and hole wavefunctions overlap. As a result, both the internal quantum efficiency and output power of the GSQB structure are ~2.13 times higher than the conventional structure at 60 mA. Importantly, our proposed structure exhibits only ~20.68% efficiency droop during 0–60 mA injection current, which is significantly lower compared to the regular structure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanostructured Light-Emitters, Volume II)
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Article
A Non-Volatile Tunable Terahertz Metamaterial Absorber Using Graphene Floating Gate
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 333; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030333 - 21 Mar 2021
Viewed by 672
Abstract
Based on the graphene floating gate, a tunable terahertz metamaterial absorber is proposed. Compared with the traditional graphene–dielectric–metal absorber, our absorber has the property of being non-volatile and capacity for anti-interference. Using the finite element method, the paper investigates the absorption spectra, the [...] Read more.
Based on the graphene floating gate, a tunable terahertz metamaterial absorber is proposed. Compared with the traditional graphene–dielectric–metal absorber, our absorber has the property of being non-volatile and capacity for anti-interference. Using the finite element method, the paper investigates the absorption spectra, the electric field energy distribution, the tunability and the physical mechanism. In addition, we also analyse the influence of geometry, polarization and incident angles on the absorption. Simulation results show that the bandwidth of the absorption above 90% can reach up to 2.597 THz at the center frequency of 3.970 THz, and the maximum absorption can be tuned continuously from 14.405% to 99.864% by controlling the Fermi level from 0 eV to 0.8 eV. Meanwhile, the proposed absorber has the advantages of polarization insensitivity and a wide angle, and has potential applications in imaging, sensing and photoelectric detection. Full article
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Review
Biofabrication in Congenital Cardiac Surgery: A Plea from the Operating Theatre, Promise from Science
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 332; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030332 - 21 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 886
Abstract
Despite significant advances in numerous fields of biofabrication, clinical application of biomaterials combined with bioactive molecules and/or cells largely remains a promise in an individualized patient settings. Three-dimensional (3D) printing and bioprinting evolved as promising techniques used for tissue-engineering, so that several kinds [...] Read more.
Despite significant advances in numerous fields of biofabrication, clinical application of biomaterials combined with bioactive molecules and/or cells largely remains a promise in an individualized patient settings. Three-dimensional (3D) printing and bioprinting evolved as promising techniques used for tissue-engineering, so that several kinds of tissue can now be printed in layers or as defined structures for replacement and/or reconstruction in regenerative medicine and surgery. Besides technological, practical, ethical and legal challenges to solve, there is also a gap between the research labs and the patients’ bedside. Congenital and pediatric cardiac surgery mostly deal with reconstructive patient-scenarios when defects are closed, various segments of the heart are connected, valves are implanted. Currently available biomaterials lack the potential of growth and conduits, valves derange over time surrendering patients to reoperations. Availability of viable, growing biomaterials could cancel reoperations that could entail significant public health benefit and improved quality-of-life. Congenital cardiac surgery is uniquely suited for closing the gap in translational research, rapid application of new techniques, and collaboration between interdisciplinary teams. This article provides a succinct review of the state-of-the art clinical practice and biofabrication strategies used in congenital and pediatric cardiac surgery, and highlights the need and avenues for translational research and collaboration. Full article
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Article
Design and Integration of the Single-Lens Curved Multi-Focusing Compound Eye Camera
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 331; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030331 - 21 Mar 2021
Viewed by 673
Abstract
Compared with a traditional optical system, the single-lens curved compound eye imaging system has superior optical performance, such as a large field of view (FOV), small size, and high portability. However, defocus and low resolution hinder the further development of single-lens curved compound [...] Read more.
Compared with a traditional optical system, the single-lens curved compound eye imaging system has superior optical performance, such as a large field of view (FOV), small size, and high portability. However, defocus and low resolution hinder the further development of single-lens curved compound eye imaging systems. In this study, the design of a nonuniform curved compound eye with multiple focal lengths was used to solve the defocus problem. A two-step gas-assisted process, which was combined with photolithography, soft photolithography, and ultraviolet curing, was proposed for fabricating the ommatidia with a large numerical aperture precisely. Ommatidia with high resolution were fabricated and arranged in five rings. Based on the imaging experimental results, it was demonstrated that the high-resolution and small-volume single-lens curved compound eye imaging system has significant advantages in large-field imaging and rapid recognition. Full article
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Article
Nanodevices Tend to Be Round
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 330; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030330 - 20 Mar 2021
Viewed by 600
Abstract
Under several circumstances, a nanowire transistor with a square cross-section behaves as a circular. Taking the Gate-All-Around junctionless transistor as a primary example, we investigate the transition of the conductive region from square to circle-like. In this case, the metamorphosis is accentuated by [...] Read more.
Under several circumstances, a nanowire transistor with a square cross-section behaves as a circular. Taking the Gate-All-Around junctionless transistor as a primary example, we investigate the transition of the conductive region from square to circle-like. In this case, the metamorphosis is accentuated by smaller size, lower doping, and higher gate voltage. After defining the geometrical criterion for square-to-circle shift, simulation results are used to document the main consequences. This transition occurs naturally in nanowires thinner than 50 nm. The results are rather universal, and supportive evidence is gathered from inversion-mode Gate-All-Around (GAA) MOSFETs as well as from thermal diffusion process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging CMOS Devices)
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Article
Ultrasound-Based Scaffold-Free Core-Shell Multicellular Tumor Spheroid Formation
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 329; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030329 - 20 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 793
Abstract
In cancer research and drug screening, multicellular tumor spheroids (MCTSs) are a popular model to bridge the gap between in vitro and in vivo. However, the current techniques to culture mixed co-culture MCTSs do not mimic the structural architecture and cellular spatial distribution [...] Read more.
In cancer research and drug screening, multicellular tumor spheroids (MCTSs) are a popular model to bridge the gap between in vitro and in vivo. However, the current techniques to culture mixed co-culture MCTSs do not mimic the structural architecture and cellular spatial distribution in solid tumors. In this study we present an acoustic trapping-based core-shell MCTSs culture method using sequential seeding of the core and shell cells into microwells coated with a protein repellent coating. Scaffold-free core-shell ovarian cancer OVCAR-8 cell line MCTSs were cultured, stained, cleared and confocally imaged on-chip. Image analysis techniques were used to quantify the shell thickness (23.2 ± 1.8 µm) and shell coverage percentage (91.2 ± 2.8%). We also show that the shell thickness was evenly distributed over the MCTS cores with the exception of being slightly thinner close to the microwell bottom. This scaffold-free core-shell MCTSs formation technique and the analysis tools presented herein could be used as an internal migration assay within the MCTS or to form core-shell MCTS co-cultures to study therapy response or the interaction between tumor and stromal cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microfluidics: Tissue Chips and Microphysiological Systems)
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Article
Retention Enhancement in Low Power NOR Flash Array with High-κ–Based Charge-Trapping Memory by Utilizing High Permittivity and High Bandgap of Aluminum Oxide
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 328; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030328 - 19 Mar 2021
Viewed by 653
Abstract
For improving retention characteristics in the NOR flash array, aluminum oxide (Al2O3, alumina) is utilized and incorporated as a tunneling layer. The proposed tunneling layers consist of SiO2/Al2O3/SiO2, which take advantage [...] Read more.
For improving retention characteristics in the NOR flash array, aluminum oxide (Al2O3, alumina) is utilized and incorporated as a tunneling layer. The proposed tunneling layers consist of SiO2/Al2O3/SiO2, which take advantage of higher permittivity and higher bandgap of Al2O3 compared to SiO2 and silicon nitride (Si3N4). By adopting the proposed tunneling layers in the NOR flash array, the threshold voltage window after 10 years from programming and erasing (P/E) was improved from 0.57 V to 4.57 V. In order to validate our proposed device structure, it is compared to another stacked-engineered structure with SiO2/Si3N4/SiO2 tunneling layers through technology computer-aided design (TCAD) simulation. In addition, to verify that our proposed structure is suitable for NOR flash array, disturbance issues are also carefully investigated. As a result, it has been demonstrated that the proposed structure can be successfully applied in NOR flash memory with significant retention improvement. Consequently, the possibility of utilizing HfO2 as a charge-trapping layer in NOR flash application is opened. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flash Memory Devices)
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Article
Analysis of Threshold Voltage Shift for Full VGS/VDS/Oxygen-Content Span under Positive Bias Stress in Bottom-Gate Amorphous InGaZnO Thin-Film Transistors
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 327; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030327 - 19 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 743
Abstract
In this study, we analyzed the threshold voltage shift characteristics of bottom-gate amorphous indium-gallium-zinc-oxide (IGZO) thin-film transistors (TFTs) under a wide range of positive stress voltages. We investigated four mechanisms: electron trapping at the gate insulator layer by a vertical electric field, electron [...] Read more.
In this study, we analyzed the threshold voltage shift characteristics of bottom-gate amorphous indium-gallium-zinc-oxide (IGZO) thin-film transistors (TFTs) under a wide range of positive stress voltages. We investigated four mechanisms: electron trapping at the gate insulator layer by a vertical electric field, electron trapping at the drain-side GI layer by hot-carrier injection, hole trapping at the source-side etch-stop layer by impact ionization, and donor-like state creation in the drain-side IGZO layer by a lateral electric field. To accurately analyze each mechanism, the local threshold voltages of the source and drain sides were measured by forward and reverse read-out. By using contour maps of the threshold voltage shift, we investigated which mechanism was dominant in various gate and drain stress voltage pairs. In addition, we investigated the effect of the oxygen content of the IGZO layer on the positive stress-induced threshold voltage shift. For oxygen-rich devices and oxygen-poor devices, the threshold voltage shift as well as the change in the density of states were analyzed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thin Film Transistors with Oxide Semiconductors)
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Article
Cutting Force Prediction Models by FEA and RSM When Machining X56 Steel with Single Diamond Grit
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 326; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030326 - 19 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 499
Abstract
In the field of underwater emergency maintenance, submarine pipeline cutting is generally performed by a diamond wire saw. The process, in essence, involves diamond grits distributed on the surface of the beads cutting X56 pipeline steel bit by bit at high speed. To [...] Read more.
In the field of underwater emergency maintenance, submarine pipeline cutting is generally performed by a diamond wire saw. The process, in essence, involves diamond grits distributed on the surface of the beads cutting X56 pipeline steel bit by bit at high speed. To find the effect of the different parameters (cutting speed, coefficient of friction and depth of cut) on cutting force, the finite element (FEA) method and response surface method (RSM) were adopted to obtain cutting force prediction models. The former was based on 64 simulations; the latter was designed according to DoE (Design of Experiments). Confirmation experiments were executed to validate the regression models. The results indicate that most of the prediction errors were within 10%, which were acceptable in engineering. Based on variance analyses of the RSM models, it could be concluded that the depth of the cut played the most important role in determining the cutting force and coefficient the of friction was less influential. Despite making little direct contribution to the cutting force, the cutting speed is not supposed to be high for reducing the coefficient of friction. The cutting force models are instructive in manufacturing the diamond beads by determining the protrusion height of the diamond grits and the future planning of the cutting parameters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro and Nano Machining Processes)
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Article
A Magnetically Actuated Superhydrophobic Ratchet Surface for Droplet Manipulation
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 325; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030325 - 19 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 804
Abstract
A water droplet dispensed on a superhydrophobic ratchet surface is formed into an asymmetric shape, which creates a Laplace pressure gradient due to the contact angle difference between two sides. This work presents a magnetically actuated superhydrophobic ratchet surface composed of nanostructured black [...] Read more.
A water droplet dispensed on a superhydrophobic ratchet surface is formed into an asymmetric shape, which creates a Laplace pressure gradient due to the contact angle difference between two sides. This work presents a magnetically actuated superhydrophobic ratchet surface composed of nanostructured black silicon strips on elastomer ridges. Uniformly magnetized NdFeB layers sputtered under the black silicon strips enable an external magnetic field to tilt the black silicon strips and form a superhydrophobic ratchet surface. Due to the dynamically controllable Laplace pressure gradient, a water droplet on the reported ratchet surface experiences different forces on two sides, which are explored in this work. Here, the detailed fabrication procedure and the related magnetomechanical model are provided. In addition, the resultant asymmetric spreading of a water droplet is studied. Finally, droplet impact characteristics are investigated in three different behaviors of deposition, rebound, and penetration depending on the impact speed. The findings in this work are exploitable for further droplet manipulation studies based on a dynamically controllable superhydrophobic ratchet surface. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section E:Engineering and Technology)
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Article
Mode Localization and Eigenfrequency Curve Veerings of Two Overhanged Beams
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 324; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030324 - 19 Mar 2021
Viewed by 401
Abstract
Overhang provides a simple but effective way of coupling (sub)structures, which has been widely adopted in the applications of optomechanics, electromechanics, mass sensing resonators, etc. Despite its simplicity, an overhanging structure demonstrates rich and complex dynamics such as mode splitting, localization and eigenfrequency [...] Read more.
Overhang provides a simple but effective way of coupling (sub)structures, which has been widely adopted in the applications of optomechanics, electromechanics, mass sensing resonators, etc. Despite its simplicity, an overhanging structure demonstrates rich and complex dynamics such as mode splitting, localization and eigenfrequency veering. When an eigenfrequency veering occurs, two eigenfrequencies are very close to each other, and the error associated with the numerical discretization procedure can lead to wrong and unphysical computational results. A method of computing the eigenfrequency of two overhanging beams, which involves no numerical discretization procedure, is analytically derived. Based on the method, the mode localization and eigenfrequency veering of the overhanging beams are systematically studied and their variation patterns are summarized. The effects of the overhang geometry and beam mechanical properties on the eigenfrequency veering are also identified. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Nano-resonators for Sensing)
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Article
The Effects of Cogging Torque Reduction in Axial Flux Machines
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 323; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030323 - 19 Mar 2021
Viewed by 538
Abstract
An axial flux permanent magnet single-rotor generator has good potential in various applications that require high efficiency, prolonged service life, as well as low mass and dimensions. However, the effect of cogging torque diminishes generator efficiency and flexibility of functionality. The effect of [...] Read more.
An axial flux permanent magnet single-rotor generator has good potential in various applications that require high efficiency, prolonged service life, as well as low mass and dimensions. However, the effect of cogging torque diminishes generator efficiency and flexibility of functionality. The effect of cogging torque arises because of a small air gap between the stator teeth and the rotor. In this article, we suggest that shifting the opposite teeth of the stator to the optimal angle can reduce the effect of cogging torque. A special axial flux permanent magnet generator is developed to choose the optimal disposition of the permanent magnet and stator teeth in the frame. The impact of the optimal angle on the cogging torque, output power, and generator efficiency is investigated. This analytical study with experimental testing proves that the optimal angle between opposite teeth can significantly decrease cogging torque and improve output power and efficiency. The results show that cogging torque decreases significantly (4–5 times) at an optimal angle of 7.5° as compared with that of other angles, although magnetic flux and output power decline slightly but efficiency increases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Miniaturized Generators, Volume II)
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Article
Full Ground Ultra-Wideband Wearable Textile Antenna for Breast Cancer and Wireless Body Area Network Applications
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 322; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030322 - 19 Mar 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1014
Abstract
Wireless body area network (WBAN) applications have broad utility in monitoring patient health and transmitting the data wirelessly. WBAN can greatly benefit from wearable antennas. Wearable antennas provide comfort and continuity of the monitoring of the patient. Therefore, they must be comfortable, flexible, [...] Read more.
Wireless body area network (WBAN) applications have broad utility in monitoring patient health and transmitting the data wirelessly. WBAN can greatly benefit from wearable antennas. Wearable antennas provide comfort and continuity of the monitoring of the patient. Therefore, they must be comfortable, flexible, and operate without excessive degradation near the body. Most wearable antennas use a truncated ground, which increases specific absorption rate (SAR) undesirably. A full ground ultra-wideband (UWB) antenna is proposed and utilized here to attain a broad bandwidth while keeping SAR in the acceptable range based on both 1 g and 10 g standards. It is designed on a denim substrate with a dielectric constant of 1.4 and thickness of 0.7 mm alongside the ShieldIt conductive textile. The antenna is fed using a ground coplanar waveguide (GCPW) through a substrate-integrated waveguide (SIW) transition. This transition creates a perfect match while reducing SAR. In addition, the proposed antenna has a bandwidth (BW) of 7–28 GHz, maximum directive gain of 10.5 dBi and maximum radiation efficiency of 96%, with small dimensions of 60 × 50 × 0.7 mm3. The good antenna’s performance while it is placed on the breast shows that it is a good candidate for both breast cancer imaging and WBAN. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Security and Sensing Devices for Healthcare Technologies)
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Article
Quantitative Spectrochip-Coupled Lateral Flow Immunoassay Demonstrates Clinical Potential for Overcoming Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic Screening Challenges
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 321; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030321 - 18 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 963
Abstract
As coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread around the world, the establishment of decentralized severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) diagnostics and point-of-care testing is invaluable. While polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has been the gold standard for COVID-19 screening, serological assays detecting [...] Read more.
As coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread around the world, the establishment of decentralized severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) diagnostics and point-of-care testing is invaluable. While polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has been the gold standard for COVID-19 screening, serological assays detecting anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in response to past and/or current infection remain vital tools. In particular, lateral flow immunoassay devices are easy to produce, scale, distribute, and use; however, they are unable to provide quantitative information. To enable quantitative analysis of lateral flow immunoassay device results, microgating technology was used to develop an innovative spectrochip that can be integrated into a portable, palm-sized device that was capable of capturing high-resolution reflectance spectrum data for quantitative immunoassay diagnostics. Using predefined spiked concentrations of recombinant anti-SARS-CoV-2 immunoglobulin G (IgG), this spectrochip-coupled immunoassay provided extraordinary sensitivity, with a detection limit as low as 186 pg/mL. Furthermore, this platform enabled the detection of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG in all PCR-confirmed patients as early as day 3 after symptom onset, including two patients whose spectrochip tests would be regarded as negative for COVID-19 using a direct visual read-out without spectral analysis. Therefore, the quantitative lateral flow immunoassay with an exceptionally low detection limit for SARS-CoV-2 is of value. An increase in the number of patients tested with this novel device may reveal its true clinical potential. Full article
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Article
Capacitance Effects of a Hydrophobic-Coated Ion Gel Dielectric on AC Electrowetting
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 320; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030320 - 18 Mar 2021
Viewed by 548
Abstract
We present experimental studies of alternating current (AC) electrowetting dominantly influenced by several unique characteristics of an ion gel dielectric in its capacitance. At a high-frequency region above 1 kHz, the droplet undergoes the contact angle modification. Due to its high-capacitance characteristic, the [...] Read more.
We present experimental studies of alternating current (AC) electrowetting dominantly influenced by several unique characteristics of an ion gel dielectric in its capacitance. At a high-frequency region above 1 kHz, the droplet undergoes the contact angle modification. Due to its high-capacitance characteristic, the ion gel allows the contact angle change as large as Δθ = 26.4°, more than 2-fold improvement, compared to conventional dielectrics when f = 1 kHz. At the frequency range from 1 to 15 kHz, the capacitive response of the gel layer dominates and results in a nominal variation in the angle change as θ ≈ 90.9°. Above 15 kHz, such a capacitive response of the gel layer sharply decreases and leads to the drastic increase in the contact angle. At a low-frequency region below a few hundred Hz, the droplet’s oscillation relying on the AC frequency applied was mainly observed and oscillation performance was maximized at corresponding resonance frequencies. With the high-capacitance feature, the ion gel significantly enlarges the oscillation performance by 73.8% at the 1st resonance mode. The study herein on the ion gel dielectric will help for various AC electrowetting applications with the benefits of mixing enhancement, large contact angle modification, and frequency-independent control. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Optofluidic Devices for Bio and Energy Applications)
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Review
Fabrication Methods for Microfluidic Devices: An Overview
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 319; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030319 - 18 Mar 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1617
Abstract
Microfluidic devices offer the potential to automate a wide variety of chemical and biological operations that are applicable for diagnostic and therapeutic operations with higher efficiency as well as higher repeatability and reproducibility. Polymer based microfluidic devices offer particular advantages including those of [...] Read more.
Microfluidic devices offer the potential to automate a wide variety of chemical and biological operations that are applicable for diagnostic and therapeutic operations with higher efficiency as well as higher repeatability and reproducibility. Polymer based microfluidic devices offer particular advantages including those of cost and biocompatibility. Here, we describe direct and replication approaches for manufacturing of polymer microfluidic devices. Replications approaches require fabrication of mould or master and we describe different methods of mould manufacture, including mechanical (micro-cutting; ultrasonic machining), energy-assisted methods (electrodischarge machining, micro-electrochemical machining, laser ablation, electron beam machining, focused ion beam (FIB) machining), traditional micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) processes, as well as mould fabrication approaches for curved surfaces. The approaches for microfluidic device fabrications are described in terms of low volume production (casting, lamination, laser ablation, 3D printing) and high-volume production (hot embossing, injection moulding, and film or sheet operations). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Micromachines in Chemistry 2020)
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Article
In-Fiber BaTiO3 Microsphere Resonator for High-Sensitivity Temperature Measurement
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 318; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030318 - 18 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 548
Abstract
A fiber optic whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonator was proposed and realized by integrating an inline polymer waveguide with a microsphere mounted on it. The polymer waveguide with a diameter of 1 μm was printed with femtosecond laser-assisted multiphoton polymerization in a section [...] Read more.
A fiber optic whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonator was proposed and realized by integrating an inline polymer waveguide with a microsphere mounted on it. The polymer waveguide with a diameter of 1 μm was printed with femtosecond laser-assisted multiphoton polymerization in a section of a grooved hollow-core fiber, which was sandwiched between two single-mode fibers. Two WGW resonators assembled with microspheres of different sizes were prepared. The transmission spectra of those stimulated WGMs were investigated both in simulation and experimentally. The temperature response of the resonators was particularly studied, and a linear sensitivity of −593 pm/°C was achieved from 20 °C to 100 °C. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro-Nano Science and Engineering)
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Review
Manual and Automatic Image Analysis Segmentation Methods for Blood Flow Studies in Microchannels
Micromachines 2021, 12(3), 317; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi12030317 - 18 Mar 2021
Viewed by 575
Abstract
In blood flow studies, image analysis plays an extremely important role to examine raw data obtained by high-speed video microscopy systems. This work shows different ways to process the images which contain various blood phenomena happening in microfluidic devices and in microcirculation. For [...] Read more.
In blood flow studies, image analysis plays an extremely important role to examine raw data obtained by high-speed video microscopy systems. This work shows different ways to process the images which contain various blood phenomena happening in microfluidic devices and in microcirculation. For this purpose, the current methods used for tracking red blood cells (RBCs) flowing through a glass capillary and techniques to measure the cell-free layer thickness in different kinds of microchannels will be presented. Most of the past blood flow experimental data have been collected and analyzed by means of manual methods, that can be extremely reliable, but they are highly time-consuming, user-intensive, repetitive, and the results can be subjective to user-induced errors. For this reason, it is crucial to develop image analysis methods able to obtain the data automatically. Concerning automatic image analysis methods for individual RBCs tracking and to measure the well known microfluidic phenomena cell-free layer, two developed methods are presented and discussed in order to demonstrate their feasibility to obtain accurate data acquisition in such studies. Additionally, a comparison analysis between manual and automatic methods was performed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Micro/Nano Devices for Blood Analysis, Volume II)
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