Electrical and Computer Engineering

WIMS Seminar

Alternative Approaches to Microfluidic Systems Design, Construction and Operation

Professor David Beebe

Professor David Beebe
Department of Biomedical Engineering
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Many approaches to the construction of microfluidic systems have appeared in the last few years including glass and silicon etching and bonding, laser machining, micromolding and others. None have emerged as a clear “winner.” Each has advantages and disadvantages for a given application. The cost of manufacturing for most approaches is still relatively expensive when compared to a more standard manufacturing method such as injection molding. Injection molding is of limited use for microfluidic applications due to limited resolution (although this is continually improving) and functionality (typically only passive, inflexible materials are used). Here we present an alternative approach to the design, construction and operation of microfluidic systems that we call µfluidic tectonics ( µFT) that compares to injection molding in cost, but allows for a wide variety of functionality. µFluidic Tectonics utilizes liquid phase photopolymerization and responsive materials to achieve elegant yet functional designs. The approach allows for the design, fabrication and operation of complete microfluidic devices within a few minutes. Ultra rapid microchannel fabrication is demonstrated. Filtering, flow control, readout and mixing components are demonstrated. Closed loop feedback control is demonstrated. µFluidic Tectonics provides a single construction platform that allows for the creation of a wide variety of microfluidic devices. The design flexibility combined with the ease of fabrication and low cost (similar to injection molding) enhances the microfluidic toolbox. Other microfluidic applications will be discussed including cell/embryo culture, surface driven pumping and evaporative sample concentration.


David J. Beebe is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with joint appointments in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. From 1996 to 1999, he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and an Assistant Research Professor in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. From 1994-1996, David was an Assistant Professor at Louisiana Tech University. He received the B.S. (1987), M.S. (1990) and Ph.D. (1994) in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. David was an electrical engineer for Kimberly-Clark Corp. from 1987-1989 where he lead the packaging controls group. Dr. Beebe has over 120 publications. Dr. Beebe serves on the steering/program committees for the µTAS and Hilton Head conferences and he co-chairs the Annual IEEE EMBS Special Topic Conference on Microtechnology, Medicine and Biology. Dr. Beebe has served on many government advisory panels including the NRC’s National Nanotechnology Initiative review panel. Dr. Beebe is a co-founder of Vitae LLC that is commercializing microfluidic systems for assisted reproduction and consults for various companies in the biotech and microfluidics field. David has broad interests in biomedical instrumentation and the development and use of microfabricated devices for applications in medicine and for the study of biology. Current interests include technology development for the handling and analysis of biological objects, development of non-traditional autonomous micro fluidic devices and systems, the study of cell and embryo development in microenvironments, development of electrostatic and electrocutaneous haptic displays, and the development of tactile sensors. Prof. Beebe’s work has been supported by DARPA, NIH, NSF, ARO, ARL, ONR and the Whitaker Foundation.

Sponsored by

WIMS ERC Seminar Series