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Content archived on 2024-04-30

Basic research on the use of magnetic fluids in microsystems


Objectives and content
Magnetic fluids or ferrofluids are stable colloidal
suspensions of single domain magnetic nanoparticles,
typically 100 A, in liquid medium. These magnetic fluids
were applied industrially about 25 years ago. Due to
their response to a magnetic field their applications
grew very fast with new applications that make them very
attractive materials for study. The main applications
are in vacuum rotary feedthrough seals for semiconductor
industry, seals in computer disk drivers to prevent
contaminants and particles from causing head crashes and
centring for loudspeaker coils in the audio industry.
Magnetic fluids are also used in biomedicine, for
monitoring some diseases and magnetic separation in
biotechnology. Applications are very important and new
applications appear due to their properties. However,
until now magnetic fluids have not been used in
microsystems technologies. The use of magnetic fluids in
combination with microsystem technology will define new
concepts and applications of integrated microsystems that
can be incorporated into new products as for example
biosensors and magnetic microactuators.
The overall goal of this project is a basic research on
the use of magnetic fluids in integrated microsystems
comprising technology, manipulation, simulation and
applications. In the frame of the project the main
technological problems that arise in the use of
ferrofluids in combination with microsystems technology
will be defined, customised ferrofluids will be
developed, needed tools for ferrofluid manipulation in
microsystems technology for the fabrication of large
scale and low price devices will be developed, different
simulation tools will be used for the optimisation of
device and tools, and two different applications will be
developed: biosensors with renewable membranes based on
magnetic fluids and magnetic microactuators based on
ferrofluids (micro-pipette). The prospective use of
these types of actuators for high efficient micropumps
for pneumatic systems will be considered.
In the biosensor the magnetic fluid will be used as
support material for the reagents. The full device will
comprise the reaction chamber with integrated chemical
sensor fabricated with microsystem technology and the
magnetic system to fix the magnetic fluid in the reaction
cell. Simulation will be necessary to optimise the device
As an example of magnetic microactuator based on
ferrofluids a micropipette will be fabricated for
handling tiny quantities of reagent and biological
fluids. The principle of operation will be controlling
the displacement of a ferrofluid in a microchannel
producing change in the volume. The device will include
the microsystem and the magnetic circuit for


Call for proposal

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EU contribution
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Campus Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona

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Participants (5)