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The University of Southampton

ELEC6204 Microfluidics and Lab-on-a-Chip

Module Overview

This module teaches the basics of the behaviour of fluids in microsystems, specifically focussing on the interaction of fundamental physical mechanisms and the design of microfluidic devices. It also reviews and analyses the state of the art in applied microfluidics such as Laboratory-on-a-Chip technology. The module uses COMSOL Multiphysics, a specialist finite element analysis tool, to model a fluidic sensor.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide an overview of microfluidics

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The theory and physical principles of fluid mechanics on the microscale
  • Operating principles and physical mechanisms unique to microfluidics
  • Fabrication methods used in the production of lab-on-a-chip systems
  • The use of Lab-on-a-Chip systems for different analytical purposes
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Propose design strategies for microfluidics systems based on fluid mechanical principles
  • Demonstrate an understanding of scaling of electrical, thermal, and fundamental dynamics in microsystems and the effects on system design
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Mathematically model microfluidic devices and systems


- Principles of miniaturisation, scaling laws - Theory of Microfluidics and nanofluidics - The diffusion of molecules and microscale mixing - Technological production of components: mixers and pumps - Fundamentals of electrical/electrochemical effects in microfluidics - DC fields in microsystems: electro-osmosis and electrophoresis - AC fields in microsystems: spectroscopy and dielectrophoresis - Soft lithography, novel methods and fabrication of Lab-on-a-Chip devices. - Detection methods – electrical, optical, thermal - Bio-analytical applications - Magnetic particle biotechnology - Surfaces, forces, electrowetting: Digital Microfluidics - Diagnostic systems – medical systems - Separation, purification, concentration technologies - Simulation and design of mixing devices for chemical reactors

Learning and Teaching

Specialist Laboratory9
Follow-up work11
Preparation for scheduled sessions11
Wider reading or practice55
Completion of assessment task25
Total study time149

Resources & Reading list

Oosterbroek and van den Berg (2003). Lab-on-a-chip : miniaturized systems for (bio)chemical analysis and synthesis. 

Comprehensive online notes. 

Gescheke et al, (2004). Microsystems Engineering of Lab-on-a-Chip Devices. 

On-line resources.

Tabeling (2005). Introduction to Microfluidics. 

Marc J. Madou (2002). Fundamentals of Microfabrication, The Science of Miniaturization. 

Nguyen and Wereley (2002|2006). Fundamentals and applications of microfluidics. 

On-line resources.



MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 70%
Report 30%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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