UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering


Bioprocess Microfluidics

Course Code
Level MSc
Credits 15 credits
Module Tutor
Professor Nicolas Szita
Practical laboratory session reports (50%)
Design coursework (50%)


The course provides the Biochemical Engineering student with the necessary knowledge to consider microfluidic and micro-scale approaches for bioprocessing applications. The aims of the course are to familiarise students with microfluidic technology, microfabrication techniques, advanced fluid mechanics, and available microfluidic and micro-scale bioprocessing methods. Expert lectures from industry will provide in-depth understanding of exemplary, commercially available devices and their applications. Practical laboratory sessions will support a hands-on understanding of the topic.

Learning Outcomes

Following completion of the course, students will have an understanding of:

  • Be able to design and fabricate simple microfluidic devices
  • Analyse fluid flow in microfluidic and micro scale devices
  • Be aware of existing micro-scale/microfluidic reactors and downstream process operations
  • Understand automation concepts for rapid process development

Learning Hours


Lectures: 30h
Case studies/practicals: 10h


Synopsis: Fluid mechanics. Dimensionless numbers (Reynolds, Peclet, Froude). Velocity and stress field. Momentum equation (Navier-Stokes). Viscous Flow. Theory of mixing at different scales. Fluidics in micro-wells.
Microfluidic design and microfabrication. Material selection (polymer, glass, silicon) and related fabrication processes. Rapid prototyping. Chip-to-macroworld interfacing. Bonding techniques. Pumping and valving methods. Active and passive micro mixers. Parallelisation and automation. Residence times in laminar flow devices.
Applications. Microfluidic and micro-well reactors. Biocatalytic micro reactors. Micro bioreactors for fermentation. Stem cell culture micro devices. Scale-up from micro-well reactors. Microwell-based tip chromatography.
Practicals. (1) Demonstration of CAD software. Introduction to UCL-BE microfluidic platform technology and corresponding design rules. (2) Laser fabrication of microfluidic chip. Demonstration (only) of other fabrication techniques. (3) Enzymatic assay. Demonstration of laminar flow and mixing principles. (4) Microwell process automation. Establishing a process sheet and programming liquid handling device. (5) Microwell tip chromatography.