The fast-growing microfluidics technology enable solutions for challenges from industrial manufacturing to healthcare applications. Sensors, heaters, actuators, light sources, bio-materials and bio-analytes among others are now integrated in microfluidic devices. These elements are sensitive to temperature and a high temperature can damage them and/or lower their performance such as linearity and sensitivity. Furthermore, nearly all typical bioanalytical functions strictly demand temperature control, such as cell culture, DNA amplification and hybridization. Ironically, in spite of highly miniaturized microfluidic and nanofluidic chips, the thermal control (especially cooling) unit like Peltier module are bulky and power-demanding. There is a call for miniaturized, integrated, autonomous and low-power cooling systems in order to achieve an accurate temperature control for microfluidic devices.
Micro heat pipes (MHP) are very effective, small and low-power cooling systems. They are heat transfer devices, based on a liquid–vapor phase change, with a very high effective thermal conductivity. They are nowadays extensively used in microelectronics as cooling systems as an external assembly unit. In this PhD, we will be developing integrated MHP as part of a microchip. The high heat transfer capacity, the small size, the low-power need and the compatibility with semiconductor fabrication allow MHP to be a generic and versatile tool for an integrated temperature control system for silicon microfluidic chips. This technology will be used for power electronics but it also aims to be the breakthrough for the next generation of silicon devices thermal regulation in microelectronics.
Required background: physics, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering
Type of work: 10% literature, 40% modelling and design, 40% fabrication and measurement, 10% other
Supervisor: Liesbet Lagae
Daily advisors: Chengxun Liu, Philippe Soussan
The reference code for this PhD position is STS1712-35. Mention this reference code on your application form.