We offer standard platforms and process modules on 6” and 8” wafers to help our clients quickly and cost-effectively move from design to volume production.
Actuators are the heart of microfluidics. Intuitively, the precise movement of very small quantities of liquid—the overall goal of microfluidics—requires the fabrication and operation of actuators that convert electrical, thermal, piezoelectric, and/or electromagnetic energy into mechanical motion. At Atomica, we exploit our decades of experience with MEMS to deliver micron-scale actuators through sophisticated processes that span many substrates, including metals such as gold, platinum, and magnetic permalloy.
With clever designs or for applications requiring less-complex fluidics, fluid flow may be accomplished passively with capillarity or with simple actuation of a blister pack. Other use cases may require the delivery of precise aliquot volumes and/or flow rates in order to achieve optimized. Atomica’s extensive expertise with magnetic actuation—in addition to our experience with micropumps made of silicon and other materials—translates to advanced micropumps that deliver the functionality and reliability that your innovation needs.
While micropumps move small liquid and gas volumes, microvalves regulate that movement. Many microvalve designs have been developed based on thermal, chemical, electrochemical, magnetic, and electrostatic actuation strategies. MEMS and microfabricated components are often used as the microvalves themselves, or to actuate a microvalve. The microvalve-based microfluidic cell sorter developed in collaboration with Miltenyi Biotech, manufactured by Atomica, uses magnetic actuation, and is the world’s fastest microvalve.
Microchannels are the pathways along which liquids and gases move after being actuated by micropumps and microvalves. In a “lab-on-a-chip”, these microchannels may themselves serve other purposes, such as imparting temperature changes, aliquoting, mixing, or addition of reagents as part of the overall chip process.
Microwells, also known as reservoirs or ports, are used to introduce external liquids (such as samples and reagents) as well as store liquids for later use—or they can serve as miniature test tubes themselves. Together, microchannels and microwells constitute the topology in which the chemistry of a microfluidic lab-on-a-chip takes place.
Passivation, metallization, and more are made possible by Atomica’s suite of advanced deposition technologies. The ability to pattern metal electrodes enables on-chip functions such as electromagnetic actuation, electrophoretic separations, or electrochemical detection or derivatization. Atomica’s capabilities with a wide variety of metals and coatings are key, as the metal/alloy or coating properties required (e.g. magnetism, conductive path, electrical insulation, inertness, linkage chemistries) are critical for function.
Filters are a common microfeature in microfluidic devices are commonly used to purify analytes, to break up cell aggregates, and to sort sample components (such as cells) based on size. While microfluidic filters are commonly made from porous silicon or nylon, it is also possible to used advanced lithography and other techniques to design topographies, for example based on micropillars, that themselves function as filters. Atomica uses its advanced greyscale lithography capabilities to craft micropillars for applications like these.
When microfluidics devices are used for applications such as drug delivery, tiny microneedles serve as the painless bridge between the device and the patient. Microneedles can also be used for laboratory manipulations like genetic transformation. MEMS-based microneedles can be made from a variety of materials that are strong yet biocompatible, such as silicon, metals, and polymers. Atomica has extensive experience with intricate processes that underlie microneedle manufacturing, such as wet etches (KOH/TMAH etches) and dry etches including complex deep DRIE.