Reading time ( words)
The Premier Inn conference centre at Heathrow Airport was the venue for the EIPC workshop on PCB BioMEMS. What, I hear you ask, is a PCB BioMEMS? This is an abbreviation for biomedical (or biological) microelectromechanical systems, otherwise known as lab-on-chip.
Given the strong market pull for more BioMEMS devices (USD $2.5 billion in 2014 and anticipated to grow at CAGR of more than 25% from 2016 to 2023), the commercialization of lab-on-chip devices is currently the Holy Grail of the research community. The lab-on-PCB approach (aka PCB BioMEMS) is being followed in various research groups all over Europe, owing to its inherent upscaling potential: the PCB industry is well-established all around the world, with standardized fabrication facilities and processes is currently commercially exploited only for electronics.
The workshop began with an introduction from Dr. Despina Moschou, 50th Anniversary Prize Fellow/Lecturer at the Centre for Advanced Sensor Technologies at the University of Bath. It was Despina who first introduced the concept of PCB BioMEMS to the EIPC at its Summer Conference in Edinburgh in June 2016, which ignited interest. She asked why lab-on-chip is not already more established using PCB technologies to provide the needed integration between the microfluidics, the biological elements and the electronics required to form an analytical system highlighting the long-standing industrial infrastructure, microfabrication capabilities and intuitive integration of electronics.
The first speaker was Dr. Yuksel Temiz of IBM’s Zurich Research Laboratory. Dr. Temiz explained that although there are over 1,400+ infectious species and 347 significant diseases, less than 5% of their prevalence has been accurately mapped. He postulated that the use of IoT-based devices linked to Smartphones or a handheld reader could revolutionise infectious disease mapping. He contrasted conventional lateral flow technology, such as that used in pregnancy detectors noting that microfluidics technology would require a much smaller sample size and optimised flow control to give much better quantitative results when used in a portable immunodiagnostic microfluidic platform.
To read the full version of this article which appeared in the February 2017 issue of The PCB Magazine, click here.