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Three-dimensional (3D) printing has potential to transform science and technology by creating bespoke, low-cost appliances that previously required dedicated facilities to make. An attractive, but unexplored, research field is to use 3D printing technique to create microfluidic structures which deal with the behavior, precise control and manipulation of fluids that are geometrically constrained to a small, typically sub-millimeter or micrometer scale.

The project main hypothesis is that 3D printing of polymers can be used to fabricate polymer and/or hybrid (polymer, glass, silicon) microfluidic structures with characteristic dimensions counted in tenths of micrometers and surface quality and properties good enough to generate and control microflows.

In order to prove this hypothesis some sub-objectives will be realize and focused on investigations on fundamental properties of 3D printing properties enabling fabrication of basic microfluidic structures, main morphological and optical properties of the microstructures, possible formation of hybrid 3D printed polymer microstructures interacting with other materials known from microtechnologies (i.e. glass and silicon) and integration with passive and active electronic and optoelectronic components to form “smart” 3D printed microfluidic structure enabling actuation and detection in microscale.

It is planned to investigate influence of the 3D printed polymer material and microstructure properties on on-chip gel electrophoresis of a genetic material, amplification of the genetic material in a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or other isothermal amplification process as well as to growth some bacteria culture of more sophisticated organisms (i. e. mouse oocyte or embryo) in a fabricated polymer chip. As the final result of the project, 3D printing technique as a tool to fabricate microfluidic structures will be characterizes and frames/limits of the new technology will be determined.