SEM micrograph of two counter-flow cells. Separation of particles occurs as their dimensions exceed the minimum distance between the adjacent micro-pillars.

Trilobite Microsystems, NorFab user with success
September 16, 2015

Based on work performed on a Master degree at HiVe (now HBV), Eirik Bentzen Egeland established the company Trilobite Microsystems AS in 2011. By employing new and known micro- and nano- structuring technologies the team based at HBV/IMST Lab in Bakkenteigen, Horten, created a new microfluidic device designed to be a scalable non-clogging filtration and separation unit for liquids with particles in the size of 1-100 µm. The device, which is typically used in large arrays, looks similar to the ancient fossils we know as Trilobites[3], and is relevant for medical (blood separation), industrial and fish farming (waste water) and shipping (ballast water) applications. In the practical prototyping since, all the NorFab nodes have been used to help manufacture the MEMS prototypes, and there are 2 PhD students working on the current R&D project for the company. Early prototypes have been used to generate more projects and academic work, mostly at HBV.

3D model illustration of the filter-flow device with turbine blade-like micro-pillars

3D model illustration of the filter-flow device with turbine blade-like micro-pillars

Figures above shows a 3D model illustration[1] of the filter-flow device with turbine blade-like micro-pillars. Figure below (and as feature, top) SEM micrograph[2] of two counter-flow cells. Separation of particles occurs as their dimensions exceed the minimum distance between the adjacent micro-pillars.

SEM micrograph of two counter-flow cells. Separation of particles occurs as their dimensions exceed the minimum distance between the adjacent micro-pillars.

SEM micrograph of two counter-flow cells. Separation of particles occurs as their dimensions exceed the minimum distance between the adjacent micro-pillars.

Key R&D work has been partly funded by the RCN [The Research Council of Norway] with Regional VRI support, as a FORNY project. Most recently, the development work at Trilobite Microsystems has been supported by a project called “Greencare” under the EEA Norway Grants Programme from Innovation Norway. This is a collaboration project with a Romanian company (MicroElectronica SA) with the intention of integrating UV-LEDS into the water cleaning modules including “Trilobites”. The Greencare project has received significant attention in local media, and a visit from the Norwegian Minister of EU, Mr. Vidar Helgesen to the project office in Bucarest in May and to the headquarter in Kristiansand in August.

Further work will now include more research at SINTEF MiNaLab and NTNU partly financed by the RCN through the project NBRIX[4].Trilobite Microsystems AS is one of several companies in Norway that join forces in a common effort to focus research to establish versatile process technology platforms that enable the fabrication of robust, reliable, and cost-effective micro-devices with high stability and new functionality. For Trilobite, the aim is also to seek to reduce the minimum dimensions that may reliably be achieved- targeting particle sizes in the nm range in the future.

[1] From Tao Dong et al., Microfluid Nanofluid (2011) 10:855–865, also used in recent PhD-work by Nuno Pires et al. at HBV.

[2] From recent work at SINTEF MiNaLab, project co-funded through NorFab.

[3] See e.g. “Trilobite” at Wikipedia.

[4] NBRIX: project number 247781 (RCN), KPN (Kompetanseprosjekt for næringslivet, Forskningsrådet).