Dolomite joins forces with LioniX

Companies partner on development of microfluidic devices and systems

Lloyd Dunlap
ROYSTON, U.K.—An offshoot of the Syrris group of companies,microfluidics specialist Dolomite Microfluidics was established when it won a$6 million prize awarded by the U.K. government in a "micro/nano contest," saysMark Gilligan, Syrris' executive chairman, in announcing its collaboration withLioniX BV, a company that specializes in applications for integrated optics andmicrofluidics incorporating a wide range of surface functionality and IOsensing systems.
 
 
Dolomite and LioniX will jointly focus on designing,developing and fabricating microfluidic devices and systems to expand the rangeof customized solutions offered to their clients.
 
 
The agreement between the two companies establishes fourcore areas of collaboration: LioniX will become a distributor for Dolomite'sstandard products, including microfluidic chips, pumps, connectors, valves andaccessories; LioniX will adopt Dolomite's Multiflux standard in future chipdesigns, allowing them to be used with Dolomite's connectors and interfaces toprovide customers with a flexible, cost-effective and time-efficient solutionfor reliable multiway fluidic connections; the companies will combine theirexpertise in microfluidics and microfabrication to offer customers a wide rangeof innovative processes, such as deep reactive-ion etching (DRIE) of fusedsilica down to an etch depth of 50µm, plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition(PECVD) depositions of silicon oxides and silicon nitrides, as well as theintegration of metal electrodes and insulators, which can be incorporated intocustomized microfluidic chips and devices; and, finally, customers will haveaccess to standard products developed by LioniX via Dolomite's microfluidic webshop.
 
 
Fluidic systems for manipulation, analysis and control ofsmall amounts of materials are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Inaddition, there is an increasing trend for these kinds of systems to bedesigned at smaller and smaller scales into the microfluidic domain. Atpresent, most fluidic connectors only allow the connection of one fluid tube ata time. Furthermore, connecting microfluidic devices to macro-scale systemspresents many challenges. If these are not addressed, the benefits of workingwithin the microfluidic environment may be compromised through time-consumingassembly and leak testing. Multiflux is Dolomite's solution for anyone workingin microfluidics. This new range of multi-way microfluidic connectors andinterfaces enables the fast, easy and cost-efficient interconnection between arange of fluidic systems and/or bundles of tubing.
 
 
The Dolomite Centre Ltd. was established in 2005—based on ahigh level of confidence that the company would be awarded the $6 millionprize, Gilligan notes—as the world's first microfluidic application center,focused on working with customers to turn their concepts for microfluidicapplications into reality. With offices in England and the United States, anddistributors throughout the rest of the world, its clients range fromuniversities developing leading-edge analytical equipment to manufacturers ofchemical, life-science and clinical diagnostics systems. With about 70 percentof its customers in life science, including drug discovery, diagnostics and"everything in between," Gilligan says, Dolomite is pioneering the use ofmicrofluidic devices for small-scale fluid control and analysis, enablingscientists and engineers to develop more compact, cost-effective and powerfulinstruments.
 
"We focus on developing 10 times, or even 100 times, moreinformation from the same experiment," he says, noting that the problem needsto be complicated because a Dolomite solution is seldom the cheapest way to go.In clinical testing, the goal is to bring testing closer—next to the bed, hesays—and to produce results much more quickly. Dolomite has successfullydeveloped a system for the encapsulation of single cells or beads intodroplets, which benefits a wide range of applications including single-cellanalysis, high-throughput screening and droplet PCR. The new system providesusers with the tools required to perform assays on individual cells inpicoliter volumes.
 
 
"We are very excited about the partnership agreement withDolomite," says Hans van den Vlekkert, CEO of LioniX. "This new strategiccollaboration will not only give both partners access to each other's worldleading technologies, but also enable us to extend our services we deliver toour clients, especially in the field of microfluidics."
 
 
LioniX specializes in applications of integrated optics,microfluidics and optofluidics including surface functionality. The companyoffers small-volume manufacturing, second sourcing as well as transfer tomedium- and high-volume manufacturing.
 
 

Lloyd Dunlap

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