JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft mbH (JR), is an applied-research oriented Austrian innovation and technology provider with a long-term expertise in large area micro/nanostructuring, printed sensor development and innovative high throughput manufacturing schemes.
Based on this, we established over the last years the Roll-to-Roll (R2R) manufacturing of Microfluidic Lab-on-a-Chip devices (LoC), which in the current pandemic could become a game changer as it allows fast and cost-effective fabrication of millions of test chips per month. The R2R process flow comprises R2R imprinting of microfluidic structures on polymer foils, printing of biomolecules by R2R microarray spotting as well as R2R lamination of additional polymer layers to cover the chip. JR’s value chain ranges from development of processes, materials and tools to simulation and design of the microfluidics. JR currently coordinates the Open Innovation Test Bed NextGenMicrofluidics for upscaling of microfluidic devices. The current activities in this Test Bed include upscaling of a validated and certified Multiplex ELISA Covid19 antibody test from injection-molded to R2R-fabricated microfluidic chips.
Another COVID-19 relevant R&D focus of JR is the development of high vacuum, sputtering-based and atmospheric pressure, plasma-jet based deposition processes for multifunctional coatings on temperature sensitive materials (polymer, composites, bio-based materials) on semi-industrial scale. Thereby our coatings combine long-term high anti-viral and anti-microbial efficiency with corrosion and wear protection and decorative finishing. The systems are based on copper alloy compound particles and thin films, deposited in combination with semi-permeable protective top coatings. This can be done by batch processing on 3D components (in-house) as well by R2R processing on foils and fleeces (with a partner). Application fields with pressing need of high and stable, skin- and lung-safe biocide protection are air-filter systems as well as frequently touched surfaces in public space, e.g. in environments with persons with impaired immune system and critical underlying health conditions (doctor’s offices, retirement homes, hospitals), but also in public transport vehicles including the air cabin. Moreover, personal health-care equipment (permanent facemasks, handles of crutches, walking frames and wheelchairs, protectors etc.), prone to microbial surface contamination through aerosol deposition, represent further potential application fields of our coating systems with 1E4 reduction of virus load within <15 min.
Finally, JR has well-known expertise in the development of printed piezoelectric sensors demonstrated for example by the use of its PyzoFlex® technology for smart floor applications with physical distancing feedback.