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Biotechnology in a Microchip

Finding a needle in a haystack seems difficult? What if we reduce the haystack to the scale of the needle?

This is what Bio-MicroElectroMechanical Systems (BioMEMS) are designed for, in the biological and medical field. For the past 7 years, Dr. Florian Lapierre has been working on the design, fabrication and manipulation of these systems for biomaterial manipulation and detection. He explores innovative strategies to design portable analytical systems that will enable point-of-sample analysis for food, environmental, and clinical applications.

After obtaining a Master degree in Micro and Nanotechnology and a second Master degree in Scientific Measurement and Applied business in 2007, Dr. Lapierre received his PhD in 2011. He then pursued his research in microfluidics systems in Melbourne, Australia, at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). Dr. Lapierre joined the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in 2014 in Prof. James Friend’s group to continue his research and collaborated to the installation of the new MicroNano Research Facility (MNRF). He recently joined the ARC Training Centre for Portable Analytical Separation Technologies Program between Trajan Scientific (Melbourne) and the University of Tasmania.

The following videos which present some examples of his recent research on microfluidic platforms and micro-droplets as bioreactors are shown on his Youtube channel. During his PhD, Dr. Lapierre worked on the application of the Electrowetting On Dielectric (EWOD) technique on super-hydrophobic surfaces integrated in droplet-based microfluidic devices [1]. Micro-, nano- and micro-nano-structured surfaces were created using bottom-up and top-down fabrication techniques; detailed studies on the robustness of the surfaces to impalement under electrowetting and drop impact were performed [2-4]. See videos: 

Dr Lapierre also worked on the characterization of droplet displacement using Electrowetting in a microfluidic system showing the significant difference between superhydrophobic and hydrophobic surfaces integrated into the systems [5]. See video: Droplet Motion 2D comparison super-hydrophobic/hydrophobic surface (slow motion) in Youtube

Super-hydrophobic surfaces into micro-devices were used for two applications: particle collection and bio-molecule analysis by matrix-free laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry. For particle collection, a cleaning efficiency close to 100% either for virus or bacteria particles was achieved [6]. For lab-on-chip application, a detection limit of 10 fmol at precise location was obtained for peptides analysis using mass spectrometry [7]. See videos: Cleaning of bioparticles using Electrowetting Digital Microfluidic for Mass Spectrometry Analysis.

At CSIRO and RMIT, Dr. Lapierre worked on the development of micro-droplet based systems using different technologies (such as flow focusing, Surface Acoustic Waves, etc.). The microfluidic platforms he designed and fabricated are currently being used for multidisciplinary research involving experts in biology and chemistry for developing novel materials. Some examples can be cited such as: -The integration of the essential steps from enzyme synthesis to selection of the best genes for producing the highest enzyme activity inside a single and unique micro device [8]. -The production of microbeads from various biomaterials (synthetic or natural hydrogels [9], peptides [10], and polymers [11]). – The manipulation of Metal Organic Framework (MOF) inside microchannels [12].

During his career, Dr. Lapierre implemented a bridge across academic laboratories and Industrial partners to make innovative micro-platforms accessible for a variety of applications. Through his independent research as well as multiple collaborations with other researchers, he has been creating solutions for various problems, facing biomolecules detection, chemical manufacturing, drug development and biomaterials manipulation. Some of his work was advertised in numerous peer review journals, books and in several international conferences.


[1] F. Lapierre. Electromouillage sur dielectrique (EWOD): conception et realisation de dispositifs microfluidiques originaux sur surfaces superhydrophobes. University of Lille 1, 2011. URL

[2] P. Brunet, F. Lapierre, V. Thomy, Y. Coffinier, and R. Boukherroub. Extreme resistance of superhydrophobic surfaces to impalement: Reversible electrowetting related to the impacting/bouncing drop test. Langmuir, 24(19):11203{11208, Aug. 2008. ISSN 0743-7463. doi: 10.1021/la801268v. URL

[3] F. Lapierre, V. Thomy, Y. Coffinier, R. Blossey, and R. Boukherroub. Reversible electrowetting on superhydrophobic double-nanotextured surfaces. Langmuir, 25(11):6551{6558, Apr. 2009. ISSN 0743-7463. doi: 10.1021/la803756f. URL 

[4] F. Lapierre, P. Brunet, Y. Coffinier, V. Thomy, R. Blossey, and R. Boukherroub. Electrowetting and droplet impalement experiments on superhydrophobic multiscale structures. Faraday Discuss., 146(0): 125{139, 2010. ISSN 1359-6640. URL

[5] F. Lapierre, M. Jonsson-Niedziolka, Y. Co_nier, R. Boukherroub, and V. Thomy. Droplet transport by electrowetting: lets get rough! Microfluidic Nanofluidics, 15(3):327{336, 2013. ISSN 1613-4982. URL

[6] M. Jonsson-Niedziolka, F. Lapierre, Y. Co_nier, S. J. Parry, F. Zoueshtiagh, T. Foat, V. Thomy, and R. Boukherroub. Ewod driven cleaning of bioparticles on hydrophobic and superhydrophobic surfaces. Lab Chip, 11(3):490{496, 2011. ISSN 1473-0197. URL

[7] F. Lapierre, G. Piret, H. Drobecq, O. Melnyk, Y. Co_nier, V. Thomy, and R. Boukherroub. High sensitive matrix-free mass spectrometry analysis of peptides using silicon nanowires-based digital microfluidic device. Lab Chip, 11(9):1620{1628, 2011. ISSN 1473-0197. URL

[8] F. Lapierre, Y. Gao, J. Oakeshott, T. Peat, and Y. Zhu. Integrated droplet platform for enzyme synthesis and analysis. Encyclopedia of Microfluidics and Nanofluidics, book chapter, 2014.

[9] Q. Sheng, W. Tian, F. Lapierre, S. Gao, R. J. Mulder, Y. Zhu, K. A. Kozielski, and C. D. Wood. Arrays of polyacrylamide hydrogels using a carbodiimide-mediated crosslinking reaction. J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 131 (12), June 2014. ISSN 1097-4628. URL

[10] F. Lapierre, G. Gardiner, V. Glattauer, D. Acharya, D. Verrelli, Y. Zhu, ad P. Hartley. Microfluidic production of peptide particles for cell culture applications. To be submitted

[11] F. Lapierre, N. R. Cameron, and Y. Zhu. Ready… set, flow: Simple fabrication of microdroplet generators and their use in the synthesis of polyHIPE microspheres. Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, 25:035011-, 2015.

[12] P. Falcaro, F. Lapierre, B. Marmiroli, M. Styles, Y. Zhu, M. Takahashi, A. J. Hill, and C. M. Doherty. Positioning an individual metal-organic framework particle using a magnetic _eld. J. Mater. Chem. C, 1(1): 42{45, 2013. ISSN 2050-7526. URL

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