Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Glass biochips for medical engineering: resource-friendly, cost-effective and high-quality

06.08.2010
The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be showcasing an innovative In-volume Selective Laser Etching (ISLE) process for glass on the joint Fraunhofer stand C41 in hall 14 of this year's glasstec, the flagship trade fair for the glass industry, which takes place in Düsseldorf from September 28 to October 1, 2010.

This process enables micrometer-fine structures to be created in transparent material like silica glass, borosilicate glass, sapphire and ruby. Trade visitors will be able to view these components under a light microscope on a video monitor at the fair.


Gears, laser-cut in 1 mm silica glass by ISLE. Source: Fraunhofer ILT

Biochips with microchannels measuring 100 micrometers in diameter, the same thickness as a strand of human hair, are used for quick tests in medical research. The channels in the small thin plates hold around a drop of fluid – blood in most cases – which is analyzed with the aid of specialized medical equipment. At present, biochips made out of plastic are used for this kind of application. However, substances from the plastic can diffuse into the test fluid and distort test results. Partners from the field of medical engineering are therefore increasingly asking for biochips made out of glass. These glass biochips are chemically neutral and essentially better suited for medical analysis applications than their plastic counterparts. The only problem so far, however, has been the lack of a suitable process for manufacturing microchannels in glass components.

The ISLE process from Fraunhofer ILT now for the first time provides a manufacturing process for microchannels, shaped holes and cuts in transparent glass material. Selective laser-induced etching first involves irradiating the transparent component internally with a laser at the point where a structure, a channel for instance, will subsequently be created. It is important that the component is also processed right up to the edge to ensure the channel has an entry and exit. At the irradiated points, the material now has a different structure than at the untreated points. It exhibits 300-times higher etchability than the unexposed material. The component is then immersed in a bath containing special, environmentally friendly etching fluid, enabling the exposed material to be etched away. Next, the component is cleaned, leaving behind the required geometry, in this case a fine system of channels. But this process can also be used to drill holes, to manufacture tiny pipes with a wall thickness of eight 8 micrometers and measuring one millimeter in both diameter and length, or to produce miniature gears for the watchmaking industry. "The greatest challenge is to avoid damaging the glass", says Dr. Jens Gottmann, project manager at the Fraunhofer ILT. "The remelting in the glass produces stresses that cause the material to crack and make the component unusable. It's all about finding the optimum irradiation parameters, something we are constantly working on." Gottmann and his team are qualifying the process for customized applications and offer their customers a microscanner with a suitable laser to produce the tailor-made geometry.

Variation of complex geometries for prototypes

The Jülich research center is delighted with the ISLE process, particularly for producing prototypes and short-run manufacturing: The researchers there often need just a single component sample to determine the best channel design within a biochip for medical purposes. In the past, a mask had to be produced specifically to manufacture these prototypes – time-consuming, costly preparatory work. The ISLE process supports the production of complex geometries even without a mask, making it easier to vary the geometry for fine-tuning.

Potential for high-volume production

The ISLE process could also be used in future for high-volume production. Glass components have already been irradiated in the laboratory within a few seconds using a new high-power femtosecond laser. Researchers from the Fraunhofer ILT are currently developing suitable machine tools for high-volume production. Initial results show that the production of glass components is possible at costs similar to those for plastic components.

The use of float glass instead of slightly less expensive plastic pays off over the long term: The glass components boast higher quality and can be kept for longer than their plastic counterparts. Glass biochips, for instance, can be cleaned far more effectively than plastic biochips, and can even be sterilized in an oven. They can therefore be used several times, making them extremely resource- and environmentally friendly.

Apart from medical engineering, applications for the process also include precision mechanics, especially watchmaking. In future it should be possible to produce microstructured 3-D components, gears and even preassembled drives for instance, in glass. This application still requires further research, but at the same time has the potential to generate substantial financial returns.

Contacts at Fraunhofer ILT
Please contact our experts with any enquiries you may have:
Dr. Jens Gottmann
In-Volume Structuring
Phone +49 241 8906-406
jens.gottmann@ilt.fraunhofer.de
Dipl.-Phys. Martin Hermans
In-Volume Structuring
Phone +49 241 8906-471
martin.hermans@ilt.fraunhofer.de
Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT
Steinbachstraße 15
52074 Aachen, Germany
Phone +49 241 8906-0
Fax +49 241 8906-121

Axel Bauer | Fraunhofer ILT
Further information:
http://www.ilt.fraunhofer.de

More articles from Trade Fair News:

nachricht Medica 2017: New software enables early diagnosis of arteriosclerosis
06.11.2017 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern

nachricht Support Free with “TwoCure” – Innovation in Resin-Based 3D Printing
02.11.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

All articles from Trade Fair News >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>