The Center for Advanced Design and Manufacturing of Integrated Microfluidics (CADMIM) develops advanced design tools and manufacturing technologies for integrated microfluidics. Its mission is to advance research and education on the science, engineering, and applications of integrated microfluidic design and scalable production to develop low-power, automated, self-contained, mass-produced microdevices capable of multistep biochemical assessments.
CADMIM's goal is to support cost-effective, quick, and easy diagnosis of conditions in
the environment, agriculture, and food and water supplies, ultimately to protect human health and safety. For example, developing new medicines requires the efficient screening of millions of compounds, feeding a growing population demands faster breeding and testing of crop varieties, and protecting water supplies or beaches requires rapid lab results for ocean and urban runoff assays. In each of these areas, fluidic samples must be analyzed quickly, accurately, and at the lowest possible cost per test. CADMIM's strategy centers on mass-produced diagnostic devices equipped with microfluidic components: chip-sized devices with high sensitivities and short reaction times of one minute or less that are capable of chemical analyses in miniaturized volumes.
CADMIM focuses on three research areas that are intellectually intertwined. The ultimate challenge is to simultaneously innovate in all these areas to refine on-chip functions; ensure compatibility and connectivity; integrate intelligence and communication; anticipate, overcome, or circumvent bottlenecks; and create high-capability, self-contained, manufacturable microdevices. This is a fresh approach to microfluidic biochip development, designed to dramatically reduce cost with equal or superior performance to lab-based functionality, allowing for low-cost manufacture and widespread deployment.
Integration and control systems
Integration combines basic science with the implementation of sensing, analysis, and detection in manufacturable biochips and includes the development of interfaces to manage and communicate results. Options include a visual readout, such as a color change on the chip that can be read by the naked eye or digitally photographed and uploaded to the internet, or an electrical signal that can be interfaced to a smartphone or transmitted via a USB interface to a laptop computer. CADMIM researchers are also investigating the production of biochips with on-command, intelligent, programmable diagnostics that can perform multiple tests at the same time.
Manufacturable processes and materials
Many materials used for microfluidic devices are not suitable for large-scale production, and several manufacturable processes have yet to be explored for the production of low-cost microfluidic chips. Automated roll-to-roll methods for tape-based plastic hot embossing, paper printing, and thin-film metal lamination (e.g., flexible circuit technology), commonly used in consumer products, can all be adapted for lab-on-a-chip production. These processes can be merged to create a new class of mass-produced diagnostic devices.
Sample processing and detection
No group has attempted to jointly address long-standing issues in the microfluidics field in the context of mass-produced, low-cost, disposable, easy-to-use diagnostics. Innovation in sample filtering, constituent enrichment and separation, on-chip reagent storage, and fluidic functions (such as metering, mixing, and transport) in low-cost manufacturable biochips are some of the critical aspects for self-contained labs-on-a-chip. Innovation must also occur at the assay and detection level, such as the development of simplified cellular and molecular assays, tests that implement different transduction mechanisms (e.g., optical, mechanical, magnetic), and probes that are specifically designed to enable cheap disposable microfluidic platforms with more complex functions.