X-Fab expands offering for silicon-based microfluidics

1 min read

X-FAB Silicon Foundries has taken steps to simplify the integration of microfluidic elements with CMOS and SOI dies.

Part of its extensive MEMS-oriented technology offering, the company is now able to provide a large variety of process capabilities for silicon- based microfluidic systems. Combined with a highly standardised foundry approach, this will help to remove barriers to market entry and shorten development cycles. The moves comes in response to increased demand for these systems.

Over the past five years the company X-FAB has invested over $25million in this area and, in the process, has established itself as a leading foundry with regard to the integration of silicon-based microfluidics.

The company has undertaken numerous projects for medical and industrial clients including: applications such as lab-on-a-chip, DNA sequencing and synthesis, cancer diagnostics, etc.

Through these projects, its engineering team has gained experience in areas like noble metal processing, high aspect-ratio deep reactive ion-etching (DRIE) and the deposition of both organic and inorganic materials. The team has also become highly adept at tailoring the interfaces needed to connect CMOS dies and their accompanying microfluidics elements, so the exact application requirements can be met.

The company has extended its process capabilities to now include:
  • Noble metal electrode arrays
  • Inorganic layers for surface passivation and protection
  • Deep silicon trenches and cavities
  • Bonded silicon or glass lid wafers
  • Polymeric fluidic structures

The company continues to expand its portfolio of standard process blocks covering these capabilities. Rather than beginning complex microsystem design projects from scratch, it will be possible to re-use existing process IP. This will help to accelerate product development cycles, as well as facilitating the scale up to volume production. Among the multitude of new opportunities envisaged are development of MEMS solutions for drug administering, flow metering and pollution monitoring.

“We are seeing a growing number of requests to implement silicon-based microfluidics. As a consequence, our engineering team is striving to bring two worlds together; so that medical OEMs' deep understanding of physiology and fluid analysis can be combined with X-FAB’s knowledge of high-volume semiconductor manufacturing technologies,” said Volker Herbig, VP of X-FAB’s MEMS business unit. “We are excited to help our medical customers in developing their smart integrated microfluidic systems via the multitude of new process capabilities we can now offer.”