BioWings delivers a disruptive actuator technology
The forthcoming EU-ban of lead based piezo electric actuators creates considerable stress on industrial manufacturing that include these components. In an effort to solve this problem, the BioWings project has developed novel lead free electrostrictive and piezoelectric materials.
In a collaborative effort BioWings has recently made a breakthrough based on progress in advanced thin film material science that now has immediate impact on industrial development within the field of acoustofluidics. Acoustofluidics is an emerging technology that enables precision processing of biological and medical samples such as blood and urine in clinical applications for cell handling and diagnostics. By vibrating microchannels that are in the size range on 0.3 mm at ultrasonic frequencies, the obtained acoustic forces acting on cells will enable extremely precise manipulation of cells and bacteria when the biofluids are passing through the microchannel.
Applications of acoustofluidics
The past years research in the acoustofluidics field has rendered a vast number of important medical diagnostic applications. With the global threat of the rapidly increasing level of antibiotic resistant bacteria strains rapid and accurate identification of pathogens is key to combat the accelerating frequency of sepsis induced deaths worldwide.
Acoustofluidic enrichment of bacteria from blood has demonstrated vastly decreased time to two hours from blood sample being drawn from patient to identified pathogen as compared to current clinical routine that yields an answer after 24-48 hours. Acoustofluidic technology has also been implemented in systems for blood component separation and processing blood plasma in integrated systems for clinical diagnostics as well as rapid and microscale determination of patient hematocrit level (red blood cell concentration).
The collaboration within BioWings have resulted in a novel thin film material for actuation of acoustofluidics components. This is a technological breakthrough that has far reaching implications for industrial development within acoustofluidics and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).
The success of the BioWings project is a combination of material science developments and the development of completely new approaches to numerical modelling of acoustofluidic microsystems that enables computer modelling and optimization of the components prior to manufacturing.
Most important is the fact that the lead-free thin film deposition can be integrated in standard clean room microfabrication process lines in industrial workflows. More so, this also means that current manufacturing methods for acoustofluidic components, that include individual mounting of piezoceramic elements on each and every component, can now be eliminated. This in turn ensures a much more cost-effective manufacturing and most importantly that device reproducibility and hence component yield in production will improve significantly.
Altogether, the outcome of the BioWings project yields a disruptive development in the development of new lead-free thin film actuators as well as a paradigm shift in acoustofluidic component design and manufacturing.