Contact

Johannes Kepler University Linz
Integrated Circuit and System Design
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Robert Wille
Altenberger Straße 69 | SCP4 0331
4040 Linz | Austria
robert.wille@jku.at
Tel: +43 732 2468 4739

Map and directions to JKU

Microfluidics

The domain of microfluidic biochips is a multidisciplinary field which deals with the precise control and manipulation of fluids in the micro-scale. Corresponding biochips, often also known as “Lab-on-a-Chip” (LoC), are used to realize experiments or operations in domains such as medicine, (bio-)chemistry, biology, pharmacology, etc., where tasks usually conducted in bulky and expensive laboratories should be minimized, integrated, and automated on a single device.

Our Work

Simulation results of our tool
The design and layout of microfluidic devices have become considerably complex tasks. For example, state-of-the-art LoCs are governed by complex flow regimes or are composed of thousands of entities and a huge number of features to be realized. Despite this complexity, most of the designs of LoCs are still conducted in a manual fashion, resulting in time-consuming and error-prone tasks. With increasing complexity of LoCs, this situation can obviously not be sustained very long. Our work aims to overcome this problem by means of sophisticated methods for simulation and Electronic Design Automation (EDA). Our research is mainly focused (but not limited) to the following issues:

  • Simulation: The state-of-the-art in the design of microfluidics is to fabricate the prototype, observe the functionality and refine the design until a working device is obtained. Of course, this is very expensive in terms of time and costs. We therefore propose to conduct simulations in order to validate the design before even the first prototype is fabricated. Therefore, our research focuses on methods for simulation, which are based on Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and especially on the 1D analysis model (the hydrodynamic equivalent to electrical circuits). More precisely, we developed an Advanced Simulation Framework exploiting the 1D analysis model, which is especially suited for simulating designs before even the first prototype is fabricated and for design space explorations. More details and also the implementation of this Advanced Simulation Framework can be found here.
  • Design automation: In today's design and implementation of microfluidic devices, many steps are conducted manually thus far. Exactly here design automation tools can support designers and accomplish such tasks in a push-button fashion. For example, designers frequently draw similar designs for meander channels in a CAD program like AutoCAD. In order to overcome this manual task, we developed an online tool, which allows designers to automatically generate meander designs with their needs and fabrication settings. Overall, in our research we envision a tool support targeting the needs of the microfluidics' community.

More Information


Book (published by Springer)
covering some of our methods

Meander Designer
(web-based tool for meander design)

Web-based visualization of our simulator

Selected Papers

We developed several methods and tools which are specialized for the design of microfluidic devices. In the following, you can find a selected set of the resulting publications. A full list of papers is available at this page.

  • Simulation and Design of Droplet Microfluidic Networks:
    • G. Fink, P. Ebner, M. Hamidovic, W. Haselmayr, and R. Wille. Accurate and Efficient Simulation of Microfluidic Networks. In Asia and South Pacific Design Automation Conference (ASP-DAC), 2021. PDF
    • G. Fink, A. Grimmer, M. Hamidovic, W. Haselmayr, and R. Wille. Robustness Analysis for Droplet-Based Microfluidic Networks. In IEEE Transactions on Computer Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems (TCAD), 2020. PDF
    • A. Grimmer, X. Chen, M. Hamidovic, W. Haselmayr, C. Ren, and R. Wille. Simulation before fabrication: a case study on the utilization of simulators for the design of droplet microfluidic networks. In RSC Advances, 8, 60:34733–34742, 2018. PDF (see also this page for the implementation and further information)
    • A. Grimmer, P. Frank, P. Ebner, S. Häfner, A. Richter, and R. Wille. Meander Designer: Automatically Generating Meander Channel Designs. In Micromachines, 9(12), 2018. PDF (see also this page for the tool and further information)
  • Design of Droplet Microfluidic Networks exploiting a passive droplet routing mechanism:
    • G. Fink, M. Hamidovic, W. Haselmayr, and R. Wille. Automatic Design of Droplet-Based Microfluidic Ring Networks. In IEEE Transactions on Computer Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems (TCAD), 2020. PDF
    • G. Fink, M. Hamidovic, R. Wille, and W. Haselmayr. Passive Droplet Control in Two-Dimensional Microfluidic Networks. In IEEE Transactions on Molecular, Biological, and Multi-Scale Communications, 2020. PDF
    • A. Grimmer, W. Haselmayr, and R. Wille. Automated Dimensioning of Networked Labs-on-Chip. In IEEE Transactions on Computer Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems (TCAD), 2018. PDF
    • A. Grimmer, W. Haselmayr, A. Springer, and R. Wille. A Discrete Model for Networked Labs-on-Chip: Linking the Physical World to Design Automation. In Design Automation Conference (DAC), 50:1-50:6, 2017. PDF
    • A. Grimmer, W. Haselmayr, A. Springer, and R. Wille. Verification of Networked Labs-on-Chip Architectures. In Design, Automation and Test in Europe (DATE), 1679-1684, 2017.PDF
    • A. Grimmer, W. Haselmayr, and R. Wille. Automatic Droplet Sequence Generation for Microfluidic Networks with Passive Droplet Routing. In IEEE Transactions on Computer Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems (TCAD), 2018.PDF
  • Design of Continuous Flow-based Microfluidics Using Valves (e.g. also PMDs):
    • A. Grimmer, B. Klepic, T.-Y. Ho, and R. Wille. Sound Valve-Control for Programmable Microfluidic Devices. In Asia and South Pacific Design Automation Conference (ASP-DAC), 2018. PDF (see also this page for the implementation).
    • A. Grimmer, Q. Wang, H. Yao, T.-Y. Ho, and R. Wille. Close-to-Optimal Placement and Routing for Continuous-Flow Microfluidic Biochips. In Asia and South Pacific Design Automation Conference (ASP-DAC), 530-535, 2017. PDF

  • Design of EWOD & MEDA microfluidics
    • O. Keszöcze, Z. Li, A. Grimmer, R. Wille, K. Chakrabarty, and R. Drechsler. Exact Routing for Micro-Electrode-Dot-Array Digital Microfluidic Biochips. In Asia and South Pacific Design Automation Conference (ASP-DAC), 708-713, 2017. PDF
    • O. Keszöcze, R. Wille, T.-Y. Ho, and R. Drechsler. Exact One-pass Synthesis of Digital Microfluidic Biochips. In Design Automation Conference (DAC), 2014. PDF