/Microdroplet manipulation for biological applications

Microdroplet manipulation for biological applications

PhD - Leuven | More than two weeks ago

Advanced digital microfluidics on display plates for drug discovery and therapy



The field of ElectroWetting-on-Dielectric (EWOD) has emerged as a fascinating avenue for fluid manipulation, driven by electric field and requiring no moving parts. This technology offers precise digital droplet control over liquid samples, presenting remarkable opportunities across various applications. Although EWOD has shown the potential for more than a decade, state of the art EWOD devices suffer from low throughput, weak actuation forces, low efficiency and unsatisfactory reliability. These issues are primarily due to the influence of the droplet chemistry (e.g. bioassay reagents) to the EWOD actuation principle.

imec, a trailblazer in advanced life science technology devices, has pushed the boundaries of EWOD by leveraging flat panel display technologies to a large area EWOD platform. This platform has enabled the creation of passive and active components with unrivalled performance in imec’s cleanroom environment together with flat panel display fabs.




This proposal aims to establish a groundbreaking doctoral research endeavour focused on designing and fabricating the next generation EWOD-based devices. The project will develop new hydrophobic surface engineering and the droplet actuation principle to allow high performance and reliable EWOD droplet actuations. In terms of design, the candidate will investigate multi-physical droplet actuation principles based on EWOD to bring together multi-type forces to overcome the electrowetting force unreliability (e.g. due to biofouling). On the surface engineering front, the doctoral candidate will understand and develop nanoscale surface engineering toward reliable hydrophobicity (e.g. anti-fouling). The project will leverage imec’s thin film technology & electrofluidics expertise on the flat panel display platform. The doctoral candidate will be part and supported by a multi-disciplinary team composed of circuit designers, multiphysics experts, fluidics engineers. The doctoral project will consist of: 1) designing and FEM modelling the droplet based device (20% time); 2), fabricating the device in the cleanroom environment (40% time); 3) conducting device performance evaluations thorough characterizations of the fluid manipulation capabilities (30% time).


The Ideal Candidate


We are seeking a highly motivated and talented candidate to pursue this doctoral position. The ideal candidate will hold a Master's degree in a relevant field, such as nano-engineering, physics, materials science, electrical engineering, or a closely related discipline. A passion for designing electric devices, a solid understanding of fluid dynamics, and the ability to characterize fluid manipulation behaviour are key prerequisites. Previous experience with cleanroom processing technology would be advantageous. Effective communication skills and the ability to work harmoniously within a multidisciplinary and multicultural team spanning different imec departments are essential. Given imec's international reach and collaborative environment, a high level of proficiency in the English language is a must.

Required background: Master's degree in nano-engineering, physics, materials science, electrical engineering, or a related field with a strong affinity for device physics

Type of work: 20% modelling, 40% experiemental, 30% characterization, 10% literature

Supervisor: Jan Genoe

Daily advisor: Alexey Podkovskiy, Chengxun Liu

The reference code for this position is 2024-125. Mention this reference code on your application form.

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