Prototyping platform for silicon microfluidics

October 28, 2020 // By Nick Flaherty
Prototyping platform for silicon microfluidics
A 350nm CMOS prototyping platform from X-Fab combines silicon MEMS and microfluidics

X-Fab Silicon Foundries in Belgium has developed a prototyping platform for silicon-based microfluidics that will be available form early next year.

The company has opened up a range of capabilities to build microfluidic structures directly onto a CMOS die. This will allow the development of new designs and devices for lab-on-a-chip, DNA sequencing and synthesis, rare cell sorting, medical implants, pharmaceutical research, drug administering, food safety testing and many other applications.

“Microfluidics represents a highly challenging application-specific market, requiring fully optimized custom solutions and considerable investment,” said Oliver Foellmer, Product Marketing Manager at X-Fab. “It is clear from our discussions with customers involved in this sector that they need to be able to get comprehensive prototyping support from a single source. Thanks to our new microfluidics prototyping platform, we are helping to accelerate development cycles and lower the financial thresholds, so that customers can embark on innovative silicon-based microfluidic projects regardless of their size or capabilities."

Designers will have access to all the key elements required for developing chip-based microfluidic subsystems – allowing them to move through the prototyping phase of their projects much quicker and get to a point where they can start considering full-scale production. By having numerous elements bundled together, it will no longer be necessary to work with many different vendors, minimising the integration issues that generally come with complex multi-vendor projects.

The service is based around X-Fab’s XH035 350nm high-voltage analog/mixed-signal CMOS process, which is optimized for applications requiring high signal-to-noise ratios for a wide range of microfluidic post-processing activities. These can be undertaken at its MEMS manufacturing sites in Germany, with use of multi-level mask (MLM) techniques to keep down the overall prototyping costs.

X-Fab has developed a range of standard process blocks, with Initial preparation of the CMOS wafer for microfluidic integration, through planarized passivation along with through passivation vias. These blocks also include the attaching of noble metal electrodes (either gold or

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