Microsystems provide some of the most intriguing options for studying and modifying cells and larger biological systems. During the last two decades, a large suite of micro- (electro-opto-chemo-mechanical) components have been fabricated and characterized in numerous labs around the world. Our group has been building on this technology base to develop devices for biological and medical applications. Using our surface micromachining technology (Sandia’s Ultra-planar, Multi-level MEMS Technology - SUMMiT™) as a starting point, we have developed a modified process flow (Surface micromachining with Integrated microFluidics Technology - SwIFT™) which incorporates silicon nitride layers that allow the creation of insulator lined, optically transparent microfluidic structures. Incorporation of mechanical, electrical and optical structures with microfluidic components enable the design and manufacture of highly functional devices in a batch-fabrication methodology. Some of the devices currently being tested include a microtransfection device, patch clamp array with integrated electronics, microfluidics and mechanical coupling to the cells, valves, pumps and channels with electrodes for manipulating (separating, concentrating) cells and particles.

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