Grant boosts lab-on-a-chip success

Since receiving £2m in funding from the DTI in 2005, microfluidics company Dolomite has become a market leader in lab-on-a-chip technology

Since receiving £2m in funding from the DTI’s Micro and Nano Technology (MNT) Manufacturing Initiative in 2005, microfluidics company Dolomite has gone from strength to strength to become a market leader in lab-on-a-chip technology.

Microfluidics enables very small-scale fluid control and analysis, allowing instrument manufacturers to develop smaller, more cost-effective and more powerful systems known as labs-on-a-chip. It is a technology that has the potential to massively impact such diverse areas as DNA testing, environmental control, fuel cell development and a broad range of biotech applications.

This funding allowed Royston, Hertfordshire based Dolomite to establish excellent microfabrication facilities with cleanrooms, precision glass processing facilities and applications laboratories. It also helped to attract skilled engineering and scientific staff.

‘Microfluidics is certainly an exciting new technology with a huge potential,’ said Dr Gillian Davis, commercial director of Dolomite. ‘We see it impacting patient care systems, forensic science, drug and environmental testing equipment and any number of similar types of systems that need to control and measure liquids at a micro scale. Microfluidics is enabling this kind of system to be smaller, far more accurate and more simply manufactured.’

To fabricate the labs-on-a-chip, channels through which the fluids flow and interact are etched into materials such as glass or polymers using photolithography processes. The patterned layers are then very accurately aligned and fused together and drilled to provide microscopic ports through which the chemicals or gases can enter and leave the device.

Dolomite is fast becoming a global company with an office in the US and distributors throughout Asia. Its clients range from universities developing leading edge analytical equipment to manufacturers of chemical, life sciences and clinical diagnostic systems.