Silicon-based Microfluidic Blood Test for Spaceflight

PI: Susana Zanello, Veerle Reumers (Co-I), IMEC USA Nanoelectronics Design Center, Inc.

IMEC’s silicon-based microfluidic blood test consists of a silicon chip—a nanofluidic processor (nFP)—embedded in a single-use, low-cost test card. Geometric microstructures inside the chip enable capillary forces to facilitate sample capture. Once the samples are processed, blood cells flow through imaging chambers on the test card and undergo lens-free imaging. The technology performs a range of diagnostic and monitoring functions in a tightly controlled fashion, including complete blood count with white blood cell differential, precise metering of blood volume, mixing of blood volumes with dilution or lysis buffers, and lysis of red blood cells.

Miniaturization of medical devices is crucial for space exploration

Technology Areas (?)
  • TA06 Human Health, Life Support and Habitation Systems
Problem Statement

Medical devices with minimal power, volume, and waste requirements are a priority as human deep space exploration increasingly relies on autonomous, onboard medical care. This technology is a diagnostic platform based on silicon chip technology that actuates liquid solely by capillary forces and therefore does not depend on fragile mechanical parts. This experiment is designed to test the gravity independent functionality of the nFP and the integrated test card. Researchers will also test the integrated prototype setup to generate the actual complete blood cell count data.

Technology Maturation

Currently the nFP is at TRL 4 and performs all the steps of a complete blood count with white blood cell differential. It is anticipated that the prototype device will move to TRL 5 in completing this flight testing opportunity.

Future Customers

• Crewed spaceflight missions, including commercial and suborbital flights
• Research and operations on the International Space Station
• Lunar and Gateway missions
• Patient point-of-care settings on Earth

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    TechFlights19 (Oct 2019)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 0 Parabolic

Development Team

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