Advances in miniaturisation and integration in the field ofelectronics have led to resounding technological advances in many areas of science, technology, business and everyday life. Similar advances can be expected from the consistent miniaturisation of chemical processes that are performed in a laboratory onto a microchip (called a Lab-on-Microchip) with structural dimensions measured in micrometres or even smaller units.
While a continued miniaturisation and integration of electronic components has led to the development of highly complex microchips and high-capacity computers, the miniaturisation and integration of chemical processes is still in its infancy. As such, there is great potential for innovation and technological development.
On an active microchip that is to be used as a Lab-on-Microchip, microscale channels and compartments for chemical applications must be interfaced with the microchip’s control circuitry. The microcompartments serve as storage compartments for tiny amounts of substances or as reaction vessels while the microchannels are used to transport, separate and detect (by use of sensory modules) small amounts of substances. Functionalised surfaces with sensorically active molecules translate chemical information into signals that can be read optically or electrically, and thus ensure communication with the chip’s microelectronic system.
The aim of this research group is to produce and implement both active and passive monolithic integrated application-specific Lab-on-Microchip systems (ALMs) for sensory, synthesis and analytical applications. The development of these systems occurs in close cooperation with more fundamental research-oriented project groups. Passive microstructures on polymer surfaces will be manufactured at the MPI for Polymer Research. A variety of active application-specific microchips will be developed and manufactured at the Institute for Microsystems Technology (IMT).