together unique

IMT 26-21 Master Thesis: Development of an NMR compatible actuator for gap distance control of two-channel microfluidic devices

Organizational unit

Institute of Microstructure Technology (IMT)

Job description

Nuclear magnetic resonance is an analysis tool with several advantages, such as being non-invasive and allowing real-time monitoring. Thus, it offers great opportunities for cell and cell metabolism monitoring over extended periods. Microfluidic Bioreactors offer a sufficient way to culture cells in a well-controlled environment. However, for long-term experiments, cells need a supply of fresh culture media and regular waste product removal to avoid nutrition deficiency. This supply implies a continuous flow of culture media, thus, cell trapping is required to avoid out flushing of the cells. Cell trapping can be done in different ways, such as mechanical cell trapping with dam structure. A parallel dam structure was chosen for the design of a microfluidic bioreactor, which is based on the designs of Yang et al. [1] and Busche et al. [2].

Since different cell types have different sizes in diameter and length, a fixed gap size can only fixate cells bigger than the gap. One option would be to manufacture a microfluidic bioreactor with a parallel dam structure with a small gap in the range of nm. Here the limitation lays in the manufacturing of such small dimensions as well as in the assembly where these dimensions are obtained. Another option is to control the gap size, which could be done by applying mechanical stress as an example. This allows the versatile usage of the chip with multiple different cell types without altering the fabrication process. For the gap distance controll of the microfluidic bioreactor an NMR compatible actuator is necessary, which will be the focus of this master thesis.

The tasks for this are:

  • Comparison of different actuator designs
  • Selection of appropriate microfabrication method for NMR compatible non-magnetic materials
  • Development of an actuator for bending
  • Design of experimental characterization method

The exact focus of the thesis can be chosen upon consultation.

[1] Yang, M., Li, C. W., & Yang, J. (2002). Cell docking and on-chip monitoring of cellular reactions with a controlled concentration gradient on a microfluidic device. Analytical Chemistry, 74(16), 3991–4001.

[2] Busche, J. F., Möller, S., Stehr, M., & Dietzel, A. (2019). Cross-flow filtration of Escherichia coli at a nanofluidic gap for fast immobilization and antibiotic susceptibility testing. Micromachines, 10(10), 691.

Starting date

by appointment

Personal qualification

  • studies in Mechanical engineering, mechatronics, physics or similar
  • Good knowledge of mechanics
  • basic knowledge in NMR technology is of advantage
  • experience in Comsol Multiphysics of advantage
  • good English skills are of advantage
  • self-motivated and independent working

Contract duration

6-9 months

Contact person in line-management

For further information, please contact M.Sc. Julia Schulte Hermann, phone: +49 721 608-29311, email:

Please apply online using the button below for this vacancy number IMT 26-21.

Ausschreibungsnummer: IMT 26-21

Recognized severely disabled persons will be preferred if they are equally qualified.


Personnel Support is provided by:
Personalservice (PSE) - Human Resources
Ms Carrasco Sanchez
Phone: +49 721 608-42016,

Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1, 76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany