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Center for Advanced Design and Manufacturing of Integrated Microfluidics (CADMIM)

University of California, Irvine

University of Cincinnati

Last Reviewed: (not done)

CADMIM will develop advanced design tools and manufacturing technologies for integrated microfluidics targeting cost-effective, quick, and easy diagnosis of the environment, agriculture, and human health.

Center Mission and Rationale

Diagnostics are needed everywhere – the environment, agriculture, food and water supplies, and ultimately for human health and safety. Ubiquitous diagnostics currently are not feasible, however, due to inefficient, cumbersome, and/or expensive existing methods. Yet rising healthcare costs and at-risk populations create a need for cheaper, widely available diagnoses and treatments.  Results of millions of livestock screens for disease are not available for hours or days. Ocean and urban runoff assays rely on culture-based laboratory results that take days to acquire – too late to prevent beach closures. In each of these application areas, fluidic samples must be analyzed quickly, accurately, and with the lowest cost/test possible. The term “diagnosis,” literally “via knowledge,” can inform not only medicine, but virtually every facet of our lives. The natural and built environment, agriculture, food and water supplies, and human health call for increasingly sophisticated and frequent monitoring.  Diagnostics have potential roles along entire chains of interconnected factors – environmental conditions influence agricultural practices and yields, which influence the availability and quality of food, which affect health, prices, and the nation’s economic status. Knowledge (or its absence) anywhere along the chain have effects downstream. If contamination goes undetected, for example, exports may be embargoed, products removed from shelves, resulting in economic losses.

The mission of the Center for Advanced Design and Manufacturing of Integrated Microfluidics is advancing research and education on the science, engineering and applications of integrated microfluidic design and scalable production through dedicated, continuing industrial partnerships. This center has been devised to concentrate and deploy resources and people to launch a transformation in ubiquitous diagnostics comparable to the advances that led to the massive availability of inexpensive consumer electronics. The strategy for this grand challenge centers on mass-produced diagnostic devices equipped with microfluidic components, chip-sized devices with high sensitivities (nM - pM) and short reaction times (<1min) -- capable of chemical analyses in miniaturized volumes (µl - pl).  Despite the many academic laboratory advances to date, few microfluidic systems have comprehensive sample-to-answer capability. This I/UCRC aims to develop low-power, automated, self-contained, mass-produced microdevices capable of multi-step biochemical assessments.

Research program

Integration and control systems

Integration encompasses output from Thrust 1 and 2, namely the combined basic science and implementation of sensing, analysis, and detection in manufacturable biochips. This thrust also includes the development of interfaces to the real world -- once results are available they need to be managed and communicated. Options include a visual readout (such as a color change on the chip that can be read by the naked eye or digitally photographed and uploaded to the internet), or an electrical signal that can be interfaced to a smart phone or transmitted via a USB interface to a laptop computer. This thrust also embraces the task of on-command, programmable multiplexed diagnostics for which intelligence is incorporated onto the biochips. 

Manufacturable processes and materials

Many materials currently being used for microfluidic devices are not suitable for large scale production. Fortunately, several manufacturable processes have yet to be explored for the production of low-cost microfluidic chips. Automated roll-to-roll methods for tape-based plastic hot embossing, paper printing, and thin-film metal lamination (i.e. flexible circuit technology), commonly used in consumer products, can all be adapted for “lab-on-a-chip” production. Also, these processes can be merged to create a new class of mass-produced diagnostic devices.

Sample Processing and Detection

While these have been issues in the microfluidics field for many years, no group has attempted to jointly address them in the context of mass-produced, low-cost/disposable, easy-to-use diagnostics. Innovation in sample filtering, constituent enrichment and separation, on-chip reagent storage, and fluidic functions (metering, mixing, transport, etc.) in low-cost manufacturable biochips are some of the critical aspects for self-contained labs-on-a-chip. Innovation must also occur at the assay and detection level, such as the development of simplified cellular and molecular assays, tests that implement different transduction mechanisms (e.g. optical, mechanical, magnetic), and probes specifically designed to enable cheap disposable microfluidic platforms with more complex functions.

The three thrust areas are intellectually intertwined, and the ultimate challenge is to innovate in all these areas simultaneously to refine on-chip functions, ensure compatibility and connectivity, integrate intelligence and communication, anticipate, overcome or circumvent bottlenecks, and create high capability, self-contained, manufacturable microdevices. This is a fresh approach to microfluidic biochip development, targeting in advance a dramatic reduction in cost, with equal or superior performance to lab-based functionality, allowing low-cost manufacture and widespread deployment. 

Special Activities

As CADMIM grows and diversifies, it is necessary to develop standards and guidelines to help companies with the least expertise in microfluidic design and manufacturing to adopt and implement it. The Center will pursue the realization of readily available resources with regards to the development, evaluation, implementation, and use of integrated microfluidic design tools and scalable fabrication processes. Such tools include design libraries tied to select manufacturable processes. The Center also encourages the formation of start-up companies that will have easy access to the developed tools, thus streamlining the product development cycle.

Please visit the CADMIM website for more information:

Facilities and Laboratory

UC Irvine and U. Cincinnati have combined access to the UCI Integrated Nanosystems Research Facility (INRF) and Bio-Organic Nanofabrication (BiON) Facilities (a contiguous 12,600 sq. ft. of lab and cleanroom space for semiconductor, metal and polymer prototyping, including hot embossing, surface coating, and organic/biological materials), and The Ohio Center for Microfluidic Innovation (OCMI) at U. Cincinnati, created in 2010 with the mission of commercializing micro/nanofluidic technologies implemented primarily in polymeric materials. OCMI is a 3,000 ft2 facility that provides the complete tool set needed to take microfluidic devices from concept, to pilot fabrication, all the way through industry-standard characterization and performance specification. The fabrication tools include those common for microfluidics (i.e. injection molding, hot-embossing, etc.) but also includes emerging tools such as UV-cured roll-to-roll processing.  Furthermore, OCMI includes complete capability to make master-molds for injection molding, and flexible master molds for roll-to-roll processing.


University of Cincinnati

School of Electronics and Computing Systems
812 Rhodes Hall

Cincinnati, Ohio, 45221-0030

United States

University of California, Irvine

Henry Samueli School of Engineering
2220 Engineering Gateway

Irvine, California, 92697

United States

(949) 824-8155