Microfluidic glass chips - getting started

Getting started with your own microfluidic glass chip

Suppose you have an idea for a new microfluidic product. You know which actions you want to perform on your chip. So far, so good. But now you are looking to turn this concept into a real product. If you have no experience with microfluidic product development, this can seem like a big step to take. Let us help you to further realize a feasible chip layout. In this blog, we give insight into the following matters: 

  • What are the basics of a glass microfluidic chip? 

  • Which elements can you use to make a chip function exactly to your wishes? 

  • How to go ahead with your first designs? 

What are the basics of a glass microfluidic chip? 

Let’s start with the basics. A glass microfluidic chip is made by processing and combining multiple layers. A typical chip layout consists of two layers: a top and bottom layer. In layer 1, you will find the fluid inlet holes. Layer 2 consists of the channel structure. Both layers are bonded to a single chip.

Chip architecture and flow control 

For the chip to function according to your wishes, it is of great importance that the fluids move through the chip in the right way. Capillarity allows liquids to flow without external actuation. Capillary flow control is determined by the geometry of the microfluidic channels. For example, a sudden increase in the diameter of a channel can make the fluid flow stop. Coatings that affect the wettability of the glass surface can also be used to control flow.

Added flow control elements 

Sometimes capillary flow control is not sufficient to ensure that the liquids reach the right place in your chip at the right time. It then may be necessary to add flow control elements. Think of valves and pumps. Various options are available for this, such as pneumatically triggered valves/pumps, pinch valves and check valves. These elements are made in polymer and can be integrated, creating a hybrid glass/polymer microfluidic system. 

Now you have determined the architecture and flow control of your glass microfluidic chip. The base has been set!

Which elements can you use to make a chip function exactly to your wishes?

You now have determined the way your fluid flows through the chip. In other words: you have created the infrastructure to make your test work. But now over to the test itself. Does your sample need any work? Or does your test require integrated reagents? Let’s look at other functionalities that your microfluidic platform may need to function as needed. 

Sample preparation 

Your basic sample material does not necessarily have the correct volume or composition. To get this right, there are several sample preparation steps that can be integrated into the chip. Next to volume metering, think of filtering, mixing, or separating liquids. A major advantage of integrating these sample prep steps is that it takes away user responsibility. By automating these preparation steps into the assay, you eliminate the chance of errors that could be made when performing these steps manually. 

Reagent integration 

Reagents can be introduced separately into the chip during the assay. But you can also choose to incorporate them into the microfluidic system in advance. They can be stored in dried form by spotting them on the chip surface or be kept in liquid form in blisters. This way you have the assurance that the composition and quantity of the reagent is always exactly right. 

Surface modification 

By coating the surface of the chip, the substrate material can be changed in a way that best suits the needs of your assay. Whether it concerns wettability, anti-stiction or anti-fouling properties, by choosing the right surface functionalization treatments, you can achieve the optimal surface properties to get the best results out of the test that will be performed on the platform. 

Sensor integration 

When your device should be able to perform tests without the use of external hardware, you should consider the options for integrated sensors. By integrating sensors into your microfluidic platform, you receive on the spot information about the test results. Whether your chip needs optical sensing, temperature sensing or voltage/current sensing, sensor integration allows you to create a smarter device that moves complexity from surrounding systems right into the heart of the chip.

How to go ahead with your first designs?

Great that you have come so far to start your microfluidic chip! Let’s follow the six steps below and you will have a glass microfluidic chip in your hand before you know it. 

  1. Assemble an information package and contact Micronit. 

  2. We will look into the provided information and schedule a call to discuss the specs of your product. 

  3. When we are sure we can create the desired product, we will get back to you with a quotation or proposal.

  4. After your approval, a team will be appointed with one engineer as your primary contact. There is still room for interaction: together we can finetune the exact needs for your product. When new insights might affect the budget, an updated/additional quotation will be provided. 

  5. An engineer will prepare a presentation that explains the design that will be produced. Production will not start until we have your consent. 

  6. Start of production. Your product will be ready and delivered within the agreed timeframe.


Let’s start today! 

Are you ready to start the production of your own glass microfluidic chip? Our glass experts are eager to hear all about it!