/Simulation of electrochemistry in microfluidic droplets

Simulation of electrochemistry in microfluidic droplets

Research & development - Leuven | More than two weeks ago

Explore a new detection technique for the emerging microfluidic droplet platform.

At Imec we bring the expertise in chip design and technology to the domain of life sciences by developing new platforms that can be implemented in therapeutics and diagnostics.


To aid the scientific progress in biotechnology and the development of personalized medicine, a high-throughput platform for screening a large population of cells is of interest. Therefore, a new type of platform has been developed, where water droplets are formed in a continuous oil flow, which we call the droplet microfluidic platform. In this project we aim to develop a new detection mechanism for the emerging droplet microfluidics platform. Instead of the widely used fluorescent detection mechanism we will use an electrochemical read-out of the platform. This will lead to a less bulky and less expensive read-out mechanism and therefore overcome the drawbacks of the fluorescent detection. In this method the microfluidic droplet, containing an electrochemical assay, will flow over a set of electrodes where it will undergo an oxidation/reduction reaction. This will give a rise in current that can then be related to the concentration of the analyte present in the droplet.


Your focus will be on the simulation of the electrochemical reaction taking place inside the droplet when in contact with the electrodes. The goal is to get a more in depth understanding of the processes that influence the electrochemical reaction. There are 3 main phenomena that will have to be studied in these simulations. The first is the electrochemical aspect that will take place, like redox cycling, but also how the enzymatic assay in the droplet comes into play. The second phenomenon is the flow dynamics inside the droplets as there will be internal recirculation due to the droplets boundary which can influence the mass transport. The last phenomenon is the electrical, where the focus will be on the current spikes that appear when the droplet first contacts the electrodes due to a difference in conductance between the oil and the droplet.


We are looking for a highly motivated student that has a strong interest in modelling. Due to the topic's highly interdisciplinary nature, we strongly advise the student to discuss the project with the supervisors prior to their application.

Type of project: Thesis

Duration: 9 months

Required degree: Master of Science, Master of Engineering Science, Master of Bioengineering

Required background: Nanoscience & Nanotechnology, Bioscience Engineering, Biomedical engineering, Physics

Supervising scientist(s): For further information or for application, please contact: Eline Thomas (Eline.Thomas@imec.be)

Only for self-supporting students.