Special Issue "10th Anniversary of Micromachines"

A special issue of Micromachines (ISSN 2072-666X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2019.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Aiqun Liu
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 639798
Interests: NEMS/MEMS; optofluidics; metasurface; nanophotonics
Prof. Nam-Trung Nguyen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Queensland Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre, Griffith University, West Creek Road, Nathan, Queensland 4111, Australia
Tel. +61 (07) 373 53921; Fax: +61 7 3735 8021
Interests: microfluidics; nanofluidics; micro/nanomachining technologies; micro/nanoscale science; instrumentation for biomedical applications
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Say Hwa Tan
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Queensland Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre, Griffith University, Brisbane, QLD 4111, Australia
Interests: microfluidics and nanofluidics; lab-on-a-chip; droplets; emulsions; bubbles; electrohydrodynamic; intelligent systems; smart microdevices; liquid metals
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Yi Zhang
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, College of Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Interests: micro/nanomedicine; microfluidics; diagnostics; biosensing; nanomaterials
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Micromachines (ISSN 2072-666X) published the inaugural issue in 2010; it has experienced a tremendous growth in terms of the number and quality of scientific publications, and has been covered by the Science Citation Index Expanded (Web of Science), Ei Compendex, Scopus and PubMed. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Micromachines, we are currently organizing a Special Issue to commemorate this important milestone.

Micromachines is a peer-reviewed open access journal on all aspects of micro/nano-scaled structures, materials, devices, systems as well as related micro- and nanotechnology from fundamental research to applications. Its primary areas of research interests include the following:

  • Fundamental micro-/nano-scale multiphysics phenomena and devices;
  • Various materials based micro- and nano-structures, devices, systems and applications;
  • Micro- and nano- fabrication and manufacturing technologies;
  • Micro- and nano-technologies in biological, chemical, medical, environmental and energy applications.

All scholars in the community are invited to submit original articles, critical reviews, research notes, and short communications on any of the above-listed topics. Please also encourage any of your colleagues who may be interested to submit manuscripts.

We expect that this issue will attract considerable attention, as we prepare to celebrate the excellent scientific contributions and socio-economic impacts of Micromachines over the past 10 years.

Prof. Ai-Qun Liu
Prof. Nam-Trung Nguyen
Dr. Say Hwa Tan
Dr. Yi Zhang
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Micromachines is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (17 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Fabrication and Characterization of Flexible Thermoelectric Generators Using Micromachining and Electroplating Techniques
Micromachines 2019, 10(10), 660; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10100660 - 30 Sep 2019
Abstract
This study involves the fabrication and measurement of a flexible thermoelectric generator (FTG) using micromachining and electroplating processes. The area of the FTG is 46 × 17 mm2, and it is composed of 39 thermocouples in series. The thermoelectric materials that [...] Read more.
This study involves the fabrication and measurement of a flexible thermoelectric generator (FTG) using micromachining and electroplating processes. The area of the FTG is 46 × 17 mm2, and it is composed of 39 thermocouples in series. The thermoelectric materials that are used for the FTG are copper and nickel. The fabrication process involves patterning a silver seed layer on the polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) substrate using a computer numerical control (CNC) micro-milling machine. Thermoelectric materials, copper and nickel, are deposited on the PMMA substrate using an electroplating process. An epoxy polymer is then coated onto the PMMA substrate. Acetone solution is then used to etch the PMMA substrate and to transfer the thermocouples to the flexible epoxy film. The FTG generates an output voltage (OV) as the thermocouples have a temperature difference (ΔT) between the cold and hot parts. The experiments show that the OV of the FTG is 4.2 mV at ΔT of 5.3 K and the output power is 429 nW at ΔT of 5.3 K. The FTG has a voltage factor of 1 μV/mm2K and a power factor of 19.5 pW/mm2K2. The FTG reaches a curvature of 20 m−1. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
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Open AccessArticle
Cord-Based Microfluidic Chips as A Platform for ELISA and Glucose Assays
Micromachines 2019, 10(9), 614; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10090614 - 15 Sep 2019
Abstract
This paper describes the development and application of microfluidic cord-based analytical devices (µCADs) in two enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) and glucose assay. In this study, biotinylated goat anti-mouse immunoglobulin (IgG) antibody, rabbit IgG antibody, and glucose are quantitatively detected. In the ELISA systems, [...] Read more.
This paper describes the development and application of microfluidic cord-based analytical devices (µCADs) in two enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) and glucose assay. In this study, biotinylated goat anti-mouse immunoglobulin (IgG) antibody, rabbit IgG antibody, and glucose are quantitatively detected. In the ELISA systems, the antibody is spotted on the cord at the detection site and a series of washes, followed by streptavidin-alkaline phosphatase (Strep-ALP) or alkaline phosphatase (ALP)-conjugated secondary antibody and colorimetric substrate, completing the experiment. The devices are subsequently scanned and analyzed yielding a correlation between inverse yellow or inverse blue intensity and antibody concentration. For the first ELISA, a linear range of detection was observed at lower concentrations (2.50 × 10−4–1.75 × 10−3 mg/mL) of Strep-ALP with saturation of the enzyme achieved at higher concentrations (>2.50 × 10−4). For the second ELISA, the L50 was demonstrated to be 167.6 fmol/zone. The glucose assay consisted of spotting increasing concentrations of glucose on the analysis sites and transporting, via capillary action, a solution containing glucose oxidase (GOx), horseradish peroxidase (HRP), and potassium iodide (KI) to the detection sites realizing a yellow-brown color indicating oxidation of iodide to iodine. The device was then dried, scanned, and analyzed to show the correlation between yellow inverse intensity and glucose. Glucose in artificial urine showed good correlation using the devices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Three-Dimensional Laser Printing of Macro-Scale Glass Objects at a Micro-Scale Resolution
Micromachines 2019, 10(9), 565; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10090565 - 26 Aug 2019
Abstract
Three-dimensional (3D) printing has allowed for the production of geometrically complex 3D objects with extreme flexibility, which is currently undergoing rapid expansion in terms of materials, functionalities, as well as areas of application. When attempting to print 3D microstructures in glass, femtosecond laser-induced [...] Read more.
Three-dimensional (3D) printing has allowed for the production of geometrically complex 3D objects with extreme flexibility, which is currently undergoing rapid expansion in terms of materials, functionalities, as well as areas of application. When attempting to print 3D microstructures in glass, femtosecond laser-induced chemical etching (FLICE)—which is a subtractive 3D printing technique—has proved itself a powerful approach. Here, we demonstrate the fabrication of macro-scale 3D glass objects of large heights up to ~3.8 cm with an identical lateral and longitudinal feature size of ~20 μm. The remarkable accomplishment is achieved by revealing an unexplored regime in the interaction of ultrafast laser pulses with fused silica, which results in depth-insensitive focusing of the laser pulses inside fused silica. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
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Open AccessArticle
Towards a Miniaturized 3D Receiver WPT System for Capsule Endoscopy
Micromachines 2019, 10(8), 545; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10080545 - 17 Aug 2019
Abstract
The optimization, manufacturing, and performance characterization of a miniaturized 3D receiver (RX)-based wireless power transfer (WPT) system fed by a multi-transmitter (multi-TX) array is presented in this study for applications in capsule endoscopy (CE). The 200 mm outer diameter, 35 μm thick printed [...] Read more.
The optimization, manufacturing, and performance characterization of a miniaturized 3D receiver (RX)-based wireless power transfer (WPT) system fed by a multi-transmitter (multi-TX) array is presented in this study for applications in capsule endoscopy (CE). The 200 mm outer diameter, 35 μm thick printed spiral TX coils of 2.8 g weight, is manufactured on a flexible substrate to enable bendability and portability of the transmitters by the patients. The 8.9 mm diameter—4.8 mm long, miniaturized 3D RX—includes a 4 mm diameter ferrite road to increase power transfer efficiency (PTE) and is dimensionally compatible for insertion into current endoscopic capsules. The multi-TX is activated using a custom-made high-efficiency dual class-E power amplifier operated in subnominal condition. A resulting link and system PTE of 1% and 0.7%, respectively, inside a phantom tissue is demonstrated for the proposed 3D WPT system. The specific absorption rate (SAR) is simulated using the HFSSTM software (15.0) at 0.66 W/kg at 1 MHz operation frequency, which is below the IEEE guidelines for tissue safety. The maximum variation in temperature was also measured as 1.9 °C for the typical duration of the capsule’s travel in the gastrointestinal tract to demonstrate the patients’ tissues safety. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
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Open AccessArticle
Fabrication of Different Microchannels by Adjusting the Extrusion Parameters for Sacrificial Molds
Micromachines 2019, 10(8), 544; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10080544 - 17 Aug 2019
Abstract
Using the 3D printed mold-removal method to fabricate microchannel has become a promising alternative to the conventional soft lithography technique, due to the convenience in printing channel mold and the compatibility with PDMS material. Although having great potential, the use of single filament [...] Read more.
Using the 3D printed mold-removal method to fabricate microchannel has become a promising alternative to the conventional soft lithography technique, due to the convenience in printing channel mold and the compatibility with PDMS material. Although having great potential, the use of single filament extruded by fused deposition modeling (FDM) as the sacrificial channel mold has not been elaborately studied. In this paper, we demonstrate the fabrication of microchannels with different structure and size by controllably extruding the sacrificial channel molds. The influences of the main processing parameters including working distance, extrusion amount and printing speed on the printed microchannels are systematically investigated. The results show that, the circular and low-aspect-ratio straight microchannels with different sizes can be fabricated by adjusting the extrusion amounts. The sinusoidal, 3D curved and cross-linked curved microchannels along straight path can be fabricated, either independently or in combination, by the combined control of the working distance, extrusion amount and printing speed. The complex microchannels with different structural features can also be printed along curved serpentine, rectangular serpentine, and spiral paths. This paper presents a simple and powerful method to fabricate the complex microchannels with different structure and size by just controlling the processing parameters for extruding channel molds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
On a Robust, Sensitive Cell-Free Method for Pseudomonas Sensing and Quantification in Microfluidic Templated Hydrogels
Micromachines 2019, 10(8), 506; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10080506 - 31 Jul 2019
Abstract
Through the use of droplet microfluidics to integrate cell-free activity into inert hydrogel beads, we have developed a platform that can perform biologically relevant functions without the need for cells. Specifically, cell-free lysates serve a utility in performing cellular functions and providing biologically [...] Read more.
Through the use of droplet microfluidics to integrate cell-free activity into inert hydrogel beads, we have developed a platform that can perform biologically relevant functions without the need for cells. Specifically, cell-free lysates serve a utility in performing cellular functions and providing biologically relevant metabolic products without requiring the optimal biological conditions for cell growth and proliferation. By teasing out specific biological components that enable transcription and translation to occur, these cell-like functions can be reconstituted in vitro without requiring the entire cell and milieu of cellular organelles. This enables the optimization of synthetic biological circuits, either by concentration or logic switches, simply through the addition or removal of genetic components (plasmids, inducers, or repressors) of regulatory elements. Here, we demonstrate an application of cell-free processes that is robust and portable, independent of a substrate, to apply for sensing and reporting functions of a quorum-sensing molecule N-3-oxododecanoyl homoserine lactone (3OC12HSL) found crucial for pathological Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection. We develop an agarose bead platform that is easily adaptable and simply programmable to fit a variety of biological and chemical sensing applications for the utility of ease of delivery and activation in remote environments—even in conditions with very little hydration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
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Open AccessArticle
Single-Cell Point Constrictions for Reagent-Free High-Throughput Mechanical Lysis and Intact Nuclei Isolation
Micromachines 2019, 10(7), 488; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10070488 - 19 Jul 2019
Abstract
Highly localized (point) constrictions featuring a round geometry with ultra-sharp edges in silicon have been demonstrated for the reagent-free continuous-flow rapid mechanical lysis of mammalian cells on a single-cell basis. Silicon point constrictions, robust structures formed by a single-step dry etching process, are [...] Read more.
Highly localized (point) constrictions featuring a round geometry with ultra-sharp edges in silicon have been demonstrated for the reagent-free continuous-flow rapid mechanical lysis of mammalian cells on a single-cell basis. Silicon point constrictions, robust structures formed by a single-step dry etching process, are arranged in a cascade along microfluidic channels and can effectively rupture cells delivered in a pressure-driven flow. The influence of the constriction size and count on the lysis performance is presented for fibroblasts in reference to total protein, DNA, and intact nuclei levels in the lysates evaluated by biochemical and fluoremetric assays and flow-cytometric analyses. Protein and DNA levels obtained from an eight-constriction treatment match or surpass those from a chemical method. More importantly, many intact nuclei are found in the lysates with a relatively high nuclei-isolation efficiency from a four-constriction treatment. Point constrictions and their role in rapid reagent-free disruption of the plasma membrane could have implications for integrated sample preparation in future lab-on-a-chip systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Thread as a Low-Cost Material for Microfluidic Assays on Intact Tumor Slices
Micromachines 2019, 10(7), 481; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10070481 - 17 Jul 2019
Abstract
In this paper we describe the use of thread as a low-cost material for a microfluidic chemosensitivity assay that uses intact tumor tissue ex vivo. Today, the need for new and effective cancer treatments is greater than ever, but unfortunately, the cost of [...] Read more.
In this paper we describe the use of thread as a low-cost material for a microfluidic chemosensitivity assay that uses intact tumor tissue ex vivo. Today, the need for new and effective cancer treatments is greater than ever, but unfortunately, the cost of developing new chemotherapy drugs has never been higher. Implementation of low-cost microfluidic techniques into drug screening devices could potentially mitigate some of the immense cost of drug development. Thread is an ideal material for use in drug screening as it is inexpensive, widely available, and can transport liquid without external pumping hardware, i.e., via capillary action. We have developed an inexpensive microfluidic delivery prototype that uses silk threads to selectively deliver fluids onto subregions of living xenograft tumor slices. Our device can be fabricated completely for less than $0.25 in materials and requires no external equipment to operate. We found that by varying thread materials, we could optimize device characteristics, such as flow rate; we specifically explored the behavior of silk, nylon, cotton, and polyester. The incremental cost of our device is insignificant compared to the tissue culture supplies. The use of thread as a microfluidic material has the potential to produce inexpensive, accessible, and user-friendly devices for drug testing that are especially suited for low-resource settings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
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Open AccessArticle
The Actuation Mechanism of 3D Printed Flexure-Based Robotic Microtweezers
Micromachines 2019, 10(7), 470; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10070470 - 14 Jul 2019
Abstract
We report on the design and the modeling of a three-dimensional (3D) printed flexure-based actuation mechanism for robotic microtweezers, the main body of which is a single piece of nylon. Our design aims to fill a void in sample manipulation between two classes [...] Read more.
We report on the design and the modeling of a three-dimensional (3D) printed flexure-based actuation mechanism for robotic microtweezers, the main body of which is a single piece of nylon. Our design aims to fill a void in sample manipulation between two classes of widely used instruments: nano-scale and macro-scale robotic manipulators. The key component is a uniquely designed cam flexure system, which linearly translates the bending of a piezoelectric bimorph actuator into angular displacement. The 3D printing made it possible to realize the fabrication of the cam with a specifically calculated curve, which would otherwise be costly using conventional milling techniques. We first characterized 3D printed nylon by studying sets of simple cantilevers, which provided fundamental characteristics that could be used for further designs. The finite element method analysis based on the obtained material data matched well with the experimental data. The tweezers showed angular displacement from 0° to 10° linearly to the deflection of the piezo actuator (0–1.74 mm) with the linearity error of 0.1°. Resonant frequency of the system with/without working tweezer tips was discovered as 101 Hz and 127 Hz, respectively. Our design provides simple and low-cost construction of a versatile manipulator system for samples in the micro/meso-scale (0.1–1 mm). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
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Open AccessArticle
Design, Fabrication and Mass-spectrometric Studies of a Micro Ion Source for High-Field Asymmetric Waveform Ion Mobility Spectrometry
Micromachines 2019, 10(5), 286; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10050286 - 27 Apr 2019
Abstract
A needle-to-cylinder electrode, adopted as an ion source for high-field asymmetric ion mobility spectrometry (FAIMS), is designed and fabricated by lithographie, galvanoformung and abformung (LIGA) technology. The needle, with a tip diameter of 20 μm and thickness of 20 μm, and a cylinder, [...] Read more.
A needle-to-cylinder electrode, adopted as an ion source for high-field asymmetric ion mobility spectrometry (FAIMS), is designed and fabricated by lithographie, galvanoformung and abformung (LIGA) technology. The needle, with a tip diameter of 20 μm and thickness of 20 μm, and a cylinder, with a diameter of 400 μm, were connected to the negative high voltage and ground, respectively. A negative corona and glow discharge were realized. For acetone with a density of 99.7 ppm, ethanol with a density of 300 ppm, and acetic ether with a density of 99.3 ppm, the sample gas was ionized by the needle-to-cylinder chip and the ions were detected by an LTQ XL™ (Thermo Scientific Corp.) mass spectrometer. The mass spectra show that the ions are mainly the protonated monomer, the proton bound dimer, and an ion-H2O molecule cluster. In tandem with a FAIMS system, the FAIMS spectra show that the resolving power increases with an increase in the RF voltage. The obtained experimental results showed that the micro needle-to-cylinder chip may serve as a miniature, low cost and non-radioactive ion source for FAIMS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
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Open AccessArticle
Design Optimization and FE Analysis of 3D Printed Carbon PEEK Based Mono Leaf Spring
Micromachines 2019, 10(5), 279; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10050279 - 26 Apr 2019
Abstract
In this research work, design optimization and static analysis of a 3D printed based carbon PEEK (poly ether ether ketone, reinforced with carbon) polymer composite mono leaf spring was done using finite element analysis. Comparative study of leaf springs of a Dodge SUV [...] Read more.
In this research work, design optimization and static analysis of a 3D printed based carbon PEEK (poly ether ether ketone, reinforced with carbon) polymer composite mono leaf spring was done using finite element analysis. Comparative study of leaf springs of a Dodge SUV car has been made by using 3D printed carbon PEEK. The main objective of this work is to optimize the design and material parameters, such as fiber diameter, fiber length, percentage volume of fibers and orientation angle of fibers in 3D printed based material with a mono polymer composite leaf spring. The effects of these parameters were studied to evaluate the deflection, bending stress, spring rate, stiffness and von Mises stress under different loading conditions. Furthermore investigation has been done to reduce the weight of leaf springs and claimed the 3D printed based leaf springs have better load carrying capacity. Thus an attempt has been made in this regard and we selected the 3D printed carbon PEEK in developing product design and material selection for minimum deflection and bending stress by means of response surface optimization methodology for an efficient leaf spring suspension system. The 3D printed carbon fiber polymer composite has three different percentage volume fractions such as 30%, 50%, and 60%. The selected carbon PEEK has 0°, 45°, and 90° fiber orientations. Finite element based analysis has been performed on 3D printed carbon PEEK material to conclude the optimized design parameters and best possible combination of factors affecting the leaf spring performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
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Open AccessArticle
Design, Fabrication, and Testing of a Monolithically Integrated Tri-Axis High-Shock Accelerometer in Single (111)-Silicon Wafer
Micromachines 2019, 10(4), 227; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10040227 - 29 Mar 2019
Abstract
In this paper, a monolithic tri-axis piezoresistive high-shock accelerometer has been proposed that has been single-sided fabricated in a single (111)-silicon wafer. A single-cantilever structure and two dual-cantilever structures are designed and micromachined in one (111)-silicon chip to detect Z-axis and X-/Y-axis high-shock [...] Read more.
In this paper, a monolithic tri-axis piezoresistive high-shock accelerometer has been proposed that has been single-sided fabricated in a single (111)-silicon wafer. A single-cantilever structure and two dual-cantilever structures are designed and micromachined in one (111)-silicon chip to detect Z-axis and X-/Y-axis high-shock accelerations, respectively. Unlike the previous tri-axis sensors where the X-/Y-axis structure was different from the Z-axis one, the herein used similar cantilever sensing structures for tri-axis sensing facilitates design of uniform performance among the three elements for different sensing axes and simplifies micro-fabrication for the multi-axis sensing structure. Attributed to the tri-axis sensors formed by using the single-wafer single-sided fabrication process, the sensor is mechanically robust enough to endure the harsh high-g shocking environment and can be compatibly batch-fabricated in standard semiconductor foundries. After the single-sided process to form the sensor, the untouched chip backside facilitates simple and reliable die-bond packaging. The high-shock testing results of the fabricated sensor show linear sensing outputs along X-/Y-axis and Z-axis, with the sensitivities (under DC 5 V supply) as about 0.80–0.88 μV/g and 1.36 μV/g, respectively. Being advantageous in single-chip compact integration of the tri-axis accelerometers, the proposed monolithic tri-axis sensors are promising to be embedded into detection micro-systems for high-shock measurement applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
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Open AccessArticle
Rapid Prototyping of Soft Lithography Masters for Microfluidic Devices Using Dry Film Photoresist in a Non-Cleanroom Setting
Micromachines 2019, 10(3), 192; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10030192 - 15 Mar 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Fabrication of microfluidic devices by soft lithography is by far the most popular approach due to simplicity and low cost. In this approach PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane) is cast on a photoresist master to generate replicas that are then sealed against glass slides using oxygen [...] Read more.
Fabrication of microfluidic devices by soft lithography is by far the most popular approach due to simplicity and low cost. In this approach PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane) is cast on a photoresist master to generate replicas that are then sealed against glass slides using oxygen plasma. In this work, we demonstrated fabrication of soft photolithography masters using lamination of ADEX dry film as an alternative to the now classic SU-8 resist masters formed by spin coating. Advantages of using ADEX dry film include the easily-achievable uniform thickness without edge bead; simplicity of the process with significant time savings due to non-sticky nature of the film; and fewer health concerns due to less toxic developing solution and antimony-free composition. As we demonstrate, the process can be performed in a low-cost improvised fabrication room in ambient light, in place of a conventional yellow-light cleanroom environment. We believe this approach holds the promise of delivering state-of-the-art microfluidic techniques to the broad field of biomedical and pharmaceutical research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
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Open AccessArticle
The Effects of Cold Arm Width and Metal Deposition on the Performance of a U-Beam Electrothermal MEMS Microgripper for Biomedical Applications
Micromachines 2019, 10(3), 167; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10030167 - 28 Feb 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) have established themselves within various fields dominated by high-precision micromanipulation, with the most distinguished sectors being the microassembly, micromanufacturing and biomedical ones. This paper presents a horizontal electrothermally actuated ‘hot and cold arm’ microgripper design to be used for the [...] Read more.
Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) have established themselves within various fields dominated by high-precision micromanipulation, with the most distinguished sectors being the microassembly, micromanufacturing and biomedical ones. This paper presents a horizontal electrothermally actuated ‘hot and cold arm’ microgripper design to be used for the deformability study of human red blood cells (RBCs). In this study, the width and layer composition of the cold arm are varied to investigate the effects of dimensional and material variation of the cold arm on the resulting temperature distribution, and ultimately on the achieved lateral displacement at the microgripper arm tips. The cold arm widths investigated are 14 μ m, 30 μ m, 55 μ m, 70 μ m and 100 μ m. A gold layer with a thin chromium adhesion promoter layer is deposited on the top surface of each of these cold arms to study its effect on the performance of the microgripper. The resultant ten microgripper design variants are fabricated using a commercially available MEMS fabrication technology known as a silicon-on-insulator multi-user MEMS process (SOIMUMPs)™. This process results in an overhanging 25 μ m thick single crystal silicon microgripper structure having a low aspect ratio (width:thickness) value compared to surface micromachined structures where structural thicknesses are of the order of 2 μ m. Finite element analysis was used to numerically model the microgripper structures and coupled electrothermomechanical simulations were implemented in CoventorWare ® . The numerical simulations took into account the temperature dependency of the coefficient of thermal expansion, the thermal conductivity and the electrical conductivity properties in order to achieve more reliable results. The fabricated microgrippers were actuated under atmospheric pressure and the experimental results achieved through optical microscopy studies conformed with those predicted by the numerical models. The gap opening and the temperature rise at the cell gripping zone were also compared for the different microgripper structures in this work, with the aim of identifying an optimal microgripper design for the deformability characterisation of RBCs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Piezoelectric MEMS Resonators for Cigarette Particle Detection
Micromachines 2019, 10(2), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10020145 - 21 Feb 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
In this work, we demonstrate the potential of a piezoelectric resonator for developing a low-cost sensor system to detect microscopic particles in real-time, which can be present in a wide variety of environments and workplaces. The sensor working principle is based on the [...] Read more.
In this work, we demonstrate the potential of a piezoelectric resonator for developing a low-cost sensor system to detect microscopic particles in real-time, which can be present in a wide variety of environments and workplaces. The sensor working principle is based on the resonance frequency shift caused by particles collected on the resonator surface. To test the sensor sensitivity obtained from mass-loading effects, an Aluminum Nitride-based piezoelectric resonator was exposed to cigarette particles in a sealed chamber. In order to determine the resonance parameters of interest, an interface circuit was implemented and included within both open-loop and closed-loop schemes for comparison. The system was capable of tracking the resonance frequency with a mass sensitivity of 8.8 Hz/ng. Although the tests shown here were proven by collecting particles from a cigarette, the results obtained in this application may have interest and can be extended towards other applications, such as monitoring of nanoparticles in a workplace environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Heterogeneous Immunoassay Using Channels and Droplets in a Digital Microfluidic Platform
Micromachines 2019, 10(2), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10020107 - 05 Feb 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This work presents a heterogeneous immunoassay using the integrated functionalities of a channel and droplets in a digital microfluidic (DMF) platform. Droplet functionality in DMF allows for the programmable manipulation of discrete sample and reagent droplets in the range of nanoliters. Pressure-driven channels [...] Read more.
This work presents a heterogeneous immunoassay using the integrated functionalities of a channel and droplets in a digital microfluidic (DMF) platform. Droplet functionality in DMF allows for the programmable manipulation of discrete sample and reagent droplets in the range of nanoliters. Pressure-driven channels become advantageous over droplets when sample must be washed, as the supernatant can be thoroughly removed in a convenient and rapid manner while the sample is immobilized. Herein, we demonstrate a magnetic bead-based, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using ~60 nL of human interleukin-6 (IL-6) sample. The wash buffer was introduced in the form of a wall-less virtual electrowetting channel by a syringe pump at the flow rate of 10 μL/min with ~100% bead retention rate. Critical parameters such as sample wash flow rate and bead retention rate were optimized for reliable assay results. A colorimetric readout was analyzed in the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) color space without the need for costly equipment. The concepts presented in this work are potentially applicable in rapid neonatal disease screening using a finger prick blood sample in a DMF platform. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
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Review

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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Micro-LEGO for MEMS
Micromachines 2019, 10(4), 267; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi10040267 - 21 Apr 2019
Abstract
The recently developed transfer printing-based microassembly called micro-LEGO has been exploited to enable microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) applications which are difficult to achieve using conventional microfabrication. Micro-LEGO involves transfer printing and thermal processing of prefabricated micro/nanoscale materials to assemble structures and devices in a [...] Read more.
The recently developed transfer printing-based microassembly called micro-LEGO has been exploited to enable microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) applications which are difficult to achieve using conventional microfabrication. Micro-LEGO involves transfer printing and thermal processing of prefabricated micro/nanoscale materials to assemble structures and devices in a 3D manner without requiring any wet or vacuum processes. Therefore, it complements existing microfabrication and other micro-assembly methods. In this paper, the process components of micro-LEGO, including transfer printing with polymer stamps, material preparation and joining, are summarized. Moreover, recent progress of micro-LEGO within MEMS applications are reviewed by investigating several example devices which are partially or fully assembled via micro-LEGO. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Micromachines)
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