DNA Synthesis is a critical component in many biological and medical applications. Unfortunately, the production of DNA is tedious, time consuming, and expensive. To accelerate the production times and lower the cost, we take a closer look at the potential application of digital microfluidics for this process.

Microfluidics involves manipulating small volumes of fluid (microliters). It takes advantage of the relative dominance of forces such as surface tension and capillary forces at the submillimeter scale. This allows for lower reagent consumption and shorter reaction times. The technology is also portable and can accommodate for various functions to be performed on the device itself. A particularly appealing focus of this field is Digital Microfluidics (DMF).

Digital Microfluidics (DMF) is a relatively recent technology praised for its fast analysis times and small volume requirements (microliters). An obstacle to the production of DNA chains using traditional methods of nucleotide synthesis is the requirement of acetonitrile, which can’t consistently be manipulated on DMF. Another obstacle to overcome is the accurate production of long chains of nucleic acids (3000 to 5000 base pair products), much longer than the DNA products used in a typical ELISA assay. For the sake of this project we are partnering with Nuclera Nucleics, a company based in the United Kingdom working on a next-generation DNA synthesis and automation platform. The company has created a novel way of synthesizing DNA using aqueous chemistry. Collaborating with them, we propose to build a DMF device that will perform oligonucleotide synthesis. The first step towards this goal is to verify that DNA ligation can be executed on a DMF device.

This device will make DNA synthesis more accessible and significantly reduce production times in the laboratory. This will lead to more advancements in the field of genetics, drug delivery and other biomedical applications.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

DNA--Synthesis; Microfluidics

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Mechanical Engineering (KGCOE)


Michael Schertzer

Advisor/Committee Member

Patricia Iglesias Victoria

Advisor/Committee Member

Kathleen Lamkin-Kennard


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes