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Diffusion bonding of polymer based micro- and nano-fluidic devices

Project Code: 35591

Start date and planned duration: August 2023, 5 months


  • Use TWI’s expert knowledge & experience in the field of diffusion bonding and submicron laser channelling to develop a thermoplastic demonstrator manifold with submicron/nano channels.
  • To develop suitable diffusion bonding and laser channelling parameters for at least 2off thermoplastic materials.
  • Use the demonstrators and published information to directly approach Members and to grow TWI’s activity in this area.
  • Use this project as a platform to diversify TWI’s involvement in this technology to other industrial applications.

Project Outline

In the proposed project work, diffusion bonding and submicron laser channelling processes for two thermoplastic substrates (preliminarily PMMA – Polymethyl methacrylate and PC - Polycarbonate) will be developed with a view of being able to manufacture novel microfluidic devices, primarily targeted at the bio-pharmaceutical industry. These microfluidic devices are expected to exhibit unique features including ultra-high surface to volume ratio, scales comparable with the range of various surface/interfacial forces and size of the important biomolecules. Laser channelling will be carried out using existing laser systems at TWI, such as nano and pico second pulsed laser sources. For the diffusion bonding process, the substrates will be placed in a vacuum furnace and joining will be accomplished by heating the assembly below the glass transition temperature, under the application of a low pressure throughout the cycle. The final phase will involve manufacturing 1off demonstrator that will be used for marketing purposes.

The project is broken down into 4 work packages as shown below:

  • Work Package 1 – Diffusion bonding of flat thermoplastic panels
  • Work Package 2 – Laser Microchannel creation in the panel and diffusion bonding
  • Work Package 3 - Micro channel leak testing
  • Work Package 4 - Project management and dissemination

Industry Sectors


- Biological, diagonostic and Medical

- Clinical Chemistry and Pharmacy


Benefits to Industry

  • Introduce the novel technology to capture the medical sector which is around 20% and global microfluidics market is expected to reach ~40 billion by 2027 
  • New SCP’s in the medical sector and attract new members to the novel technology and technical excellence of TWI to support the industry
  • Innovative product and potential for IP development
  • Offer full manufacturing support that combines both the technologies (diffusion bonding and laser machining) to the customer
  • Exploit plastic diffusion bonding in food industry, chemical processing, fuel injectors and microelectronics/semiconductor manufacturing
  • The project will result in cost reduction, quality improvement, increase in process yield and establish clean, safe and sustainable process


For more information please email: