Microfluidics technology has been adopted for increasingly diverse use in ink-jet printing, lab-on-a-chip, biomedical research and diagnostics, chemical processing, water monitoring and the harnessing of alternative energy. According to Yole Development (EMMA2007), the potential market size of microfluidics technology in life science alone will be about US$2 billion in 2012. Advances in microfluidics technology are well aligned with Singapore’s long-term R&D thrusts to grow the strategic clean energy, water, environment and biomedical industries.
The three-year collaboration between the institutes of the two countries will build upon the collective and complementary research capabilities in microfluidics technology and microsystem technology of SIMTech and CSEM, respectively. The proposed research collaboration areas will cover microsystem technology, environmental monitoring, microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip developments.
One specific collaborative effort is on the development of a microfluidic platform for environmental quality monitoring to detect impurities and contaminants in water. In this project, CSEM will spearhead the microsystem development and SIMTech will focus on coming up with innovative polymer microfluidics for the manipulation of liquid samples.
Another area for collaboration is on the realisation of an integrated biochip system for disease detection. With CSEM’s extensive expertise in ISFET (ion sensitive field effect transistor) and SIMTech’s polymer microfluidics design and manufacturing experience for sample preparation, a self-contained and fully integrated biochip system will be developed. The system can potentially be used for medical diagnostic applications. The progressive shift from traditional laboratory processes to the portable lab-on-a-chip offers many advantages such as improved performance in speed, reproducibility, reduced cost and reagents consumption, lower contamination and operator error, and the convenience of more parallel and integrated analyses.
“The multi-disciplinary joint collaboration drawing on the strengths of both institutes will accelerate the advancement of microfluidics technology. The accelerated development will enable the clean energy, environment, water and biomedical industries to leverage on the outcomes and achievements for a clear competitive advantage. More importantly, the joint multi-disciplinary microfluidics development offers the industry microfluidics solutions in an integrated platform“ commented Dr Lim Ser Yong, Executive Director, SIMTech.
“SIMTech and CSEM have already worked together for a long time, and it is a great pleasure for us to intensify this collaboration in a field of high strategic value and high commercial interest, especially for all issues concerning microsystems technologies. CSEM and SIMTech together will be able to push the boundaries of the technology in this area, ” said Prof Thomas Hinderling, CEO, CSEM.
The genesis of this collaboration started through the A*STAR Visiting Investigatorship Programme (VIP). Prof Nico de Rooij, the Institute Director of Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausane, Head of Sensors, Actuators and Microsystems Lab (SAMLab) and Vice-President, Microsystems Technology, CSEM, was the A*STAR Visiting Investigator for the development of a re-configurable integration platform, encompassing fluidic and electronic components for potential applications in biomedical, chemical analysis, power and drop ejections.
About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is the lead agency for fostering world-class scientific research and talent for a vibrant knowledge-based Singapore. A*STAR actively nurtures public sector research and development in Biomedical Sciences, and Physical Sciences and Engineering, and supports Singapore's key economic clusters by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital to our partners in industry and the healthcare sector. It oversees 23 research institutes, consortia and centres located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis, and the area in their vicinity, and supports extramural research in the universities, hospitals, research centres, and with other local and international partners.
About Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech)
The Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) is a research institute of the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). SIMTech develops high value manufacturing technology and human capital to contribute to the competitiveness of the Singapore industry. It collaborates with multinational and local companies in the precision engineering, electronics, semiconductor, medtech, aerospace, automotive, marine, logistics and other sectors.
About CSEM – an innovation center
CSEM, Centre Suisse d’ Electronique et de Microtechnique (Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology), founded in 1984, is a private research and development center specializing in microtechnology, nanotechnology, microelectronics, system engineering and communications technologies. It offers its customers and industry partners tailor-made innovative solutions based on its knowledge of the market and technological expertise derived from applied research. Having founded several start-ups, it contributes to developing Switzerland as an industrial location. To date, a total of 29 such enterprises, with more than 500 employees, have been launched by CSEM. In addition, CSEM has acquired an international dimension by establishing a presence in the Arab Emirates in 2005, and in Brazil in 2007, in order to speed up and encourage the transfer of knowledge and new technologies beneficial to the local economy of these countries.
Approximately 400 highly qualified and specialized employees from various scientific and technical disciplines work for CSEM in Neuchâtel, Zurich, Basel, Alpnach and Landquart. They represent more than 30 nationalities and constitute the basis of the company’s creativity, dynamism and innovation potential.