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Sandwich student project: microfluidic hot-embossing system

The overall aim of this proposal is to bring new capabilities to the Making STP and thereby enable biomedical discovery within the institute, in the context of providing an undergraduate from a UK university with a unique and defined research project.

The defined technical goal of this project is to design and build a hot-embossing system. It is essentially a device capable of applying pressure and temperature simultaneously and in a very accurate way. This device can replicate microfluidic structures from a mould into a polymer and/or bond different polymer layers.

After the design and building phase, the last step will consist in testing biocompatible polymers and determine the proper working conditions for replication of a microfluidic structure and bonding to a suitable substrate. We anticipate that most time will be spent on this designing and building phase, but given completion of this phase the individual will work on determining the best approach for fabrication of a mould (including 3D printing, epoxy-casting, or machining aluminium) and materials that are suitable for embossing with this system, such as COC or COP.

A hot embossing system does not yet exist at the Crick, and this limits materials that we can use to design and manufacture devices for researchers throughout the Crick. If successful, this project would unlock the potential to use hot embossing for Making STP projects. At the very least, this project will inform how future design and manufacture processes in the Making STP will develop.

The candidate should be pursuing an undergraduate engineering degree, as this project would involve different disciplines including material science, mechanics, thermal analysis and electronics.