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MSc. Assignment - Developing an integrated tool for simultaneous thermal, physical and chemical characterization of picoliter volumes of liquid reagents using BMC

What will you be doing?

At the TNO Optomechatronics Department in Delft, the very successful NOMI program (Nano-Opto-Mechatronic Instrumentation) is running. Within this program, fundamental insight into new technologies and innovative concepts are being developed, resulting in the realization of proof of concept demonstrators. This program contains multiple technology lines in the semicon field of use, such as nano-metrology and nano-fabrication to enable the next generation chip manufacturing industry.

Bio-NOMI is a spin-off of this program, in which TNO is developing cross-over technologies between the semicon and biomedical field. Technologies developed for semicon, are being explored, analyzed, re-engineered and realized in order to provide game changing concepts and technologies for biomedical applications. Examples of such technologies are nano-mechanical devices for healthcare applications such as early disease identification and monitoring and medicine efficacy studies for Personal Medicine based on the mechanical properties of tissue, cells or organelles of cells. As an example, it is known that cells infected with cancer are less stiff compared to their healthy counter parts. It is also known that this stiffness changes during the development process. Early detection of mechanical changes and monitoring the change during treatment of the cells and extracellular matrix, might add valuable information needed for effective treatment of the disease.

We are looking for an enthusiastic Master student to help develop an integrated tool for simultaneous thermal, physical and chemical characterization of picoliter volumes of liquid reagents using bimaterial microfluidic cantilever (BMC).This sensors is a combination of MEMS and microfluidics and currently it is being exploited as a very sensitive and selective analytical tool for various applications. It has been successfully demonstrated to perform mass spectrometry of proteins, thermal characterization of polymers, heat capacity measurement of chemicals, antimicrobial resistance, infrared spectrometry, and physical characterization of different solvents. By simultaneously monitoring the static deflection, resonance frequency and quality factory (energy dissipation) of the BMC, it is also possible to perform multiple characterization of picoliter volumes of reagents at the same time. This feature makes it an ideal tool for high throughput application where low sample consumption is of high consideration.

The BMCs are fabricated by Fourien Inc. based in Edmonton, Canada. The goal of this assignment is to develop a low cost optical beam deflection setup to measure the resonance frequency as well as the static deflection of the cantilever. Characterization of noise and signal-to-noise-ratio will be performed to minimize the noise of the instrument. Initially the measurements will be done at atmospheric pressure and room temperature. At a later stage a vacuum chamber would also be incorporated into the setup.

Such a setup would enable the researchers to use the BMC for more precise measurements for fundamental research as well as industry oriented applications. Additionally, this would lead to the development of optical MEMS spectrometer with an ability to simultaneously perform thermal, physical and chemical characterization of extremely small volumes of various reagents.

Would you like to know more about Thomas Thundat’s group at the University of Alberta, click here.
Would you like to know more about TNO, click here.

What do we require of you?

Are you:
  • Currently a Master student in the field of Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Physics, Electrical Engineering or Micro Electronics;
  • Looking for a M.Sc. assignment that will take ≥ 6 months;
  • Familiar with MEMS and NEMS fabrication and characterization;
  • Passionate about MEMS and NEMS and finding their next generation applications for example in heath and diagnostics;
  • Familiar with nano-scale displacement readout such as optical beam deflection;
  • Capable to build experimental setups and conducting experimental measurements;
  • Interested in creating and developing game-changing techniques in the bio-medical and bio-technical field?
  • Driven by solving difficult biomedical challenges with technical solutions which for instance can change the way diseases are analyzed and treated?
Do you have both technical and biomedical expertise and want to combine those in collaboration with enthusiastic colleagues and partners? If the answer to all the above is ‘yes’, we are looking for you! Apply now for the M.Sc. assignment at NOMI.

What can you expect of your work situation?

TNO is an independent research organisation whose expertise and research make an important contribution to the competitiveness of companies and organisations, to the economy and to the quality of society as a whole. Innovation with purpose is what TNO stands for. With 3000 people we develop knowledge not for its own sake but for practical application. To create new products that make life more pleasant and valuable and help companies innovate. To find creative answers to the questions posed by society. We work for a variety of customers: governments, the SME sector, large companies, service providers and non-governmental organisations. Working together on new knowledge, better products and clear recommendations for policy and processes. In everything we do, impact is the key. Our product and process innovations and recommendations are only worth something if our customers can use them to boost their competitiveness.

What can TNO offer you?

You want to work on the precursor of your career; a work placement gives you an opportunity to take a good look at your prospective future employer. TNO goes a step further. It’s not just looking that interests us; you and your knowledge are essential to our innovation. That’s why we attach a great deal of value to your personal and professional development. You will, of course, be properly supervised during your work placement and be given the scope for you to get the best out of yourself. Naturally, we provide suitable work placement compensation.

Has this vacancy aroused your interest?

Then please feel free to apply on this vacancy! For further questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

Contactpersoon: Kim Dielwart

Phone number: +31 (0)88-86 64695

Note that applications via email and third party applications are not taken into consideration.