Lumped element model for rapid design and simulation of highly integrated microfluidic systems

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“Spice” simulator for highly integrated microfluidic systems

In recent years, point-of-care applications have become of great interest to provide a faster result to health care practitioners. This requires more complex microfluidics networks in highly integrated chips, with an increasing number of functionalities per chip. One of the main challenges facing the microfluidics designers is to find suitable modeling methods that can predict and optimize the performance of the designed devices in practical time scales and using reasonable computational resources.


The goal of this thesis is to develop a system level model, a “Spice” simulator, for highly integrated microfluidic systems with multiple active fluidic controlling elements (e.g. microvalve), and with at least two fluids in a multilayer fluidic network. Mechanical and fluidic simulations need be coupled in order to describe the system. Numerical methods such as the finite element method (FEM) are preferred for the design and optimization of a single fluidic component. However, increasing device complexity makes the method too time consuming. Lumped-element parameters of all microfluidic components on the chip (such as valves and channels) can be estimated from theory, extracted from FEM models and fine-tuned by measurement. Based on the model, suggestions should be formulated to optimize future microfluidic system designs, according to different application needs. The thesis work will start from one basic fluidic element and based on the thesis progress, more components are encouraged to be included.

Effort: 20% literature, 80% simulation

Type of project: Thesis

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

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

Supervising scientist(s): For further information or for application, please contact: Grim Keulemans ( and Lei Zhang (

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