Project FlashPoM

Optimisation of a laser-write process for low-cost low lead-time production of prototype microdevices for SMEs in the analytical chemistry and biomedical markets


Partner No.

Partner Name





1 Universitat PolitŔcnica de Catalunya, Barcelona - coordinator   Spain   Catalonia
2 Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Eindhoven   The Netherlands   Noord-Brabant
3 University of Milan, Milano   Italy   Lombardy
4 University of West Bohemia, Plzen   Czech Republic   South-West Bohemia


The project FlashPoM seeks to optimise techniques for low-cost low lead-time production of customised modular lab-on-a-chip prototypes devices by optimisation of the PoM (Polymer-on-Multielectrode array) technology. The four specific tasks to carry out are:

  1. Development of software for process-constrained low-complexity design of customised PoM devices by the target user.
    The consortium will develop a low-complexity software tool to be used by SMEs to configure their lab-on-a-chip prototypes by combination of a set of predefined elements and modules. These will include polymeric layers with embedded microchannels, vias, microchambers and solid layers with electrode arrays of customisable geometries. The production cost for a predefined batch size given the selected modules, their arrangement and customised geometrical properties will be automatically estimated by the software. The final design with optimal cost and functionality will be stored in a compact format suitable for over-the-internet submission to the fabrication service.
  1. Assembly of a prototype direct-write lithography system for semi-automated mask-free production of electrode arrays and soft-lithography masters.
    The fabrication of microfluidics, microsensors and microactuators as typically required to assemble lab-on-a-chip systems, makes intensive use of photolithographic techniques. Conventional photolithography processes require the use of costly (approx. 2000 euros/mask) glass masks, produced with e-beam lithography, to realise features in the order of 2 Ám. While this has become the standard procedure, an alternative approach based on laser direct-write of features on photopatternable materials has been shown to produce high quality patterns with feature sizes down to 10 Ám and at a far lower cost (approx. 20 euros/substrate). Despite the lower resolution achievable with laser writing, it is sufficient for the production of a wide range of lab-on-a-chip prototypes in a semi-automated way. The consortium will produce a direct-write subsystem by integration of computer a controlled microscope stage, UV laser and automatic beam focusing mechanism.
  1. Optimisation of photopatternable biocompatible polymer.
    To enable laser-based production of FlashPoMs, photocurable and thermo/photolabile polymers will be optimised. Biocompatible amorphous elastomeric (block) copolymers will be synthesised, with UV-curable copolyester blocks and thermally labile (co)polycarbonate blocks, forming the continuous phase of the phase-separating system. These can be spin-cast on a variety of substrates and patterned by an automated laser-write system directly from the device designed by the customer SME, reducing the cost and time involved in traditional lithography.
  1. Evaluation of FlashPoM devices for culture, differentiation and electrical characterisation of neuronal progenitor cells
    Given the market potential of in vitro techniques in combination with lab-on-a-chip technologies, the consortium will seek to confirm the viability of the PoM devices in a demanding case such as the culture and differentiation of stem cells. In particular, biocompatibility will be confirmed by seeking to monitor differentiation of stem cells into neurons by monitoring of extracellular potentials.

Local Project Team

Project leader:   prof.Vaclav Skala
Project team members:   Jan Kaiser, MSc.
Vojtech Hladik, MSc.
Frantisek Novak, MSc.

Results of the local team

Specialized graphical editor FlashPoM Designer for a chip design was developed.


Download and install:

FlashPoM Designer System Specification: FlashPOM_Designer-System_Specification.pdf

The purpose of this document is to specify requirements on the software editor for chip design. Software enables the user to design the chip layer by layer. Each layer has a thickness associated with it and a set of geometrical shapes. If the layer belongs to class 'electrodes' it can be a glass layer or a conductor layer. (Electrodes are actually fabricated by stacking a patterned conductor on a glass substrate). If the layer is a micro fluidics layer, the shapes in it will be trenches, holes, etc. One device could have multiple layers of each type stacked one on top of the other. Software output is file in SVG like format that is ready for chip fabricating process. Software should do some rule checks and cost estimations and include them in the descriptor files. The rule checks will ensure that the device can actually be fabricated with technology developed within the FlashPOM project and the cost estimation will provide price estimate based on the structures put in the design. Finally, the GUI should enable the user to get the best possible idea of the 3D appearance of the device he or she has fabricated. Top view and cross-section are a must but the possibility of doing 3D rendering with rotation in space, etc. is welcome. The software should be easy to use and downloadable a website.


Other detailed documentation:

  • FlashPoM Designer Users Manual - FlashPOM_Designer-Users_Manual.pdf
  • FlashPoM Designer Technical Report - FlashPOM_Designer-Technical_Report.pdf
  • Hladik,V: 2D Editor for a Chip Design - project FlashPoM - 1, MSc. thesis in Czech , supervisor: prof.Vaclav Skala, Univ.of West Bohemia, 2007
  • Novak,F.: 2D Editor for a Chip Design - project FlashPoM - 2, MSc. thesis in Czech, supervisor: prof.Vaclav Skala, Univ.of West Bohemia, 2007

  • Contact

    prof.Ing.Vaclav Skala, CSc.
    University of West Bohemia
    Computer Science Dept.
    Secretary:                         cse== at
    Centre for Computer Graphics and Visualization
    Univerzitni 8, Box 314
    CZ 306 14 Plzen-Bory
    Czech Republic
    e-mail: skala == at
    Direct Tel. +420-37-763-2473
    Direct Fax. +420-37-763-2457
    Tel.secretary: +420-37-763-2461, 2462, 2463
    Fax Department: +420-37-763-2402