MEMS Technology

MEMS technologies: the foundation of microfluidic devices.

MEMS technology: the technology for innovative miniature microfluidic systems

MEMS technologies (acronym for “Micro Electro Mechanical Systems”) are devices integrating both electronic and mechanical components. They are regularly called upon in microfluidics to manufacture its characteristic miniature systems. Any examples? Micropumps, microneedles and microchannels all require precise control and handling on a microscopic scale.

But how are these infinitely small MEMS technologies manufactured? They are the result of micromachining techniques such as photolithography and Nanoscribe.

MEMS technology -Photolithography

Photolithography at the origin of MEMS technologies

Operating principle

Photolithography is essential in the field of microfabrication, and is particularly in demand for the production of MEMS technologies, found in microfluidic components and other optical and microelectronic devices. At the heart of this technique lies the use of a master plate, often called a master, which serves as a template or pattern, and is usually produced from a photosensitive material such as resin.

MEMS technologies - Photolithography
MEMS technologies - Photolithography

The main advantage of photolithography is its ability to produce complex, miniature structures on a large scale from a single master with a high level of uniformity and precision. What’s more, its flexibility means that customized models can be created quickly, paving the way for continuous innovation in microfabrication.

How does it work?

Everything hinges on this master plate which, once generated, is deposited on a silicon or glass surface. When exposed to ultraviolet light through a mask containing the desired pattern, the resin reacts through a chemical process, leading to the precise reproduction of the image of the pattern in question.

Thanks to the electroforming process, the master plate can be used as a template for the production of multiple copies, using the master plate as a cathode in an electrolytic cell. A metal, such as nickel or another alloy, is then electroplated onto the master plate in solution, forming an exact replica of the pattern.

It’s the combination of photolithography and electroforming that makes it possible to produce several faithful replicas of the original motif, right down to the smallest nanometric detail. These replicas can then be used for MEMS technologies, which in turn can be exploited for prototype or production molds for various applications such as microfluidic devices, of course, but also other medical devices.

Photolithography - 20 micron diameter well matrix
Photolithography
20-micron diameter well matrix

How DBM Medix makes its mark in photolithography

The best part? DBM Medix’s expertise and connections. Over time, we have developed a network of partners capable of supplying these photolithographed master plates to our specifications and requirements. As for ourelectroforming service, its reputation and exclusivity are well established.

MEMS technology - Photolithography - Silicon wafer for photolithography

Nanoscribe, the alternative for MEMS technologies

Operating principle

Nanoscribe is considered a revolutionary advance in microfabrication and nanotechnology. Based on the direct-write lithography technique – as opposed to photolithography, which uses masks – it enables miniature structures to be produced, always with a high degree of precision and resolution. By using ultraviolet lasers to re-polymerize light-sensitive resins on a nanometric scale, Nanoscribe also offers the possibility of creating complex patterns with dimensions down to a few hundred nanometers.

The absence of masks gives Nanoscribe technology great flexibility and design freedom in its ability to produce three-dimensional structures, offering a multitude of applications in various fields (optics, photonics, medicine, electronics, in addition to microfluidics). Obvious examples include miniature optical lenses and nanophotonic structures to improve the efficiency of solar cells.

Major advantages

Thanks to its versatility, Nanoscribe considerably speeds up the prototyping and research process in the field of nanotechnology. And with precision and resolution levels still exceptional, it’s easy to understand the new prospects that are opening up for the design of miniaturized devices.

Nanoscribe’s revolutionary potential has caught the eye of many researchers and engineers, who have no hesitation in regarding it as an indispensable tool. Their shared vision? Pushing the limits and increasing the performance of what is possible at the nanoscale.

DBM Medix in first place for Nanoscribe!

Considering its dynamism and motivation to keep abreast of promising trends in the microfluidics market, DBM Medix didn’t miss the Nanoscribe boat. We are proud to be able to offer this technology in our manufacturing process for masters and inserts for microfluidic and optical molds, or for other precision applications.

Equipping yourself with the best at all times

Photolithography and Nanoscribe have their own specific features and advantages, which we need to be aware of in order to provide a customized response to all the requests we receive. By offering two technologies for creating master plates and an electroforming service for mass production, we are sure to have powerful, proven methods for manufacturing high-precision miniature components, and meeting the challenges of a wide range of industries.

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