The objective of the programme is to transfer the technology of Microcontact Printing and generation of Microfluidic Networks from the semiconductor industry to biotechnology where these techniques are still largely unexploited. The technology transfer is to a company producing advanced analytical instrumentation. The advances pertinent to instrument manufacturers are related to a low price of production of sensing surfaces, a large degree of parallelism in the detection of various substances and to the miniaturization possible by semi-conductor technology. The realization of the technology transfer may drastically change the analytical methods available and position the recipient of the technology as a world market leader in its segment of the analytical instrumentation, i.e. multi-analyte detection for the industrial, environmental and defence markets and, in the longer term, panels of tests in clinical diagnostics. The technologies to be transferred have been patented recently but only a fraction of the potential applications have been considered. Microcontact Printing is a new technology for the preparation of surface layers in the form of patterned, potentially oriented organic molecules, here implemented for advanced and highly specific biosensors. The generation of Microfluidic Networks is a highly active area in international research. The development of new methods of generating polymer stamps for Microcontact Printing have resulted in such detailed control of the structures produced in the polymer that the technique has been turned into a method for generation of micrometer resolved channels used for Microfluidic Networks. Both techniques have been perfected to a production level of reliability. The application in biotechnology is in a sector completely different from the market serviced by the semiconductor company. Similarly the nano-technology involved is not part of international biotechnology yet.
The objectives of this programme are:
- to transfer expertise on preparation of polymers suitable for Microcontact Printing and Microfluidic Networks
- to transfer know-how on application of sensor materials to a predetermined area with a precision better than 5 microns
- to transfer know-how on simultaneous application of a number of different sensor materials to predetermined areas on the same surface with a precision better than 5 microns
- to transfer know-how on preparation of the inks used in the stamping process
- to transfer expertise in generation of Microfludic Networks
- to transfer know-how on the preparation of oriented biomolecules to a surface layer used for sensing
- to produce within 12 months an analytical instrument based on the present instrument modified to incorporate the transferred information
- to produce within 18 months an analytical instrument to a test site in a selected end user company
- to prepare within 24 months a joint evaluation of the instrumentation
- to mediate the transfer through an institute specialising in organic surface layers due to its links to both fields of expertise described
The transfer requires interdisciplinary efforts from the two industries involved
The investment in adapting to the partner companies technologies is an unknown experiment for both. Without the encouragement of the European Union support it is questionable if the experiment will be realisable.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
CB3 8SL Cambridge