Think big

Pre-scored Glass Wafer Lowering the Cost of Biochips

Pre-scored Glass Wafer Lowering the Cost of Biochips

Whether you are developing a glass biochip for inhouse use, or as a commercial product, cost-of-good (COGs) has always been at the top of consideration list. Key to managing COGs is the ability to keep costs as low as possible in small quantities whilst still taking advantage of economy of scale as demand increases. This is particularly challenging with customized glass chips.

Adding even further to this dilemma is a relentless drive to increase format complexity. Today’s customers are typically looking for customized formats which directly fit their platform. There is a demand for high quality, tight tolerances, smaller chips, complex detailed markings and all at low initial quantities with as lower COGs as possible.

SCHOTT MINIFAB’s pre-scored glass substrates bring new ideas and new technology to help meet these challenges.

Over the past 15 years SCHOTT MINIFAB’s Nexterion® brand has become well known for standard glass substrates in various formats such as microscopy slides, microtiter plates or wafers, and for functional coatings supporting a wide range of bioscience uses. As the diagnostics and lifescience industry has developed, however, so has the demand for glass that supports more complex processes.

The SCHOTT MINIFAB team have focused heavily on developing ways to deliver very complex customized small substrates suitable for diagnostics consumables including insertion into polymer housings and use in almost any diagnostic platform. This capability has also been developed to deliver complex components for Lab-on-Chip applications.

Glass has proven itself as a superior substrate for many applications. Glass substrates can be manufactured ultra-thin and extremely flat with low roughness. Glass has excellent optical qualities, high chemical and electrical resistance and tends not to interfere with biological processes. Glass also carries functional coatings very well.

Despite all these positives the cost of customization  especially for small chips has been a difficult challenge for glass. Key to this challenge is the need to automatate processes and reduce single handling of products. This becomes particularly challenging for customized or very small substrate sizes which do not fit existing manufacturing machinery and equipment.

To overcome traditional challenges, SCHOTT MINIFAB has developed a laser technology to pre-score large, standardized, wafers which can be broken in multiple customized smaller chips at the end of processing. The Nexterion® PreScora innovation enables many chips to be created on a single wafer using one set of processes rather than requiring each finished chip to be manufactured separately. Although this approach has been applied before, SCHOTT MINIFAB’s innovative use of laser technology allows this approach to be used for small and large scale production, putting the benefits of customization and increased chip complexity in the hands of more customers.

Typically, SCHOTT MINIFAB will deliver customers with Nexterion® PreScora as cleaned and functionally coated substrates with the client applying the  biomolecules such as DNA, antibodies or proteins. Common applications include microarrays, next generation sequencing and single cell  detection. Possible application shapes include lab on chip and flow cells

Pre-scored substrates can be treated with Nexterion® functional coatings or client customized coatings as well as markings, barcodes or logos on the glass surface. Once again, all these processes occur on a single large wafer rather than on each individual chip which reduces cost significantly.

Delivering a large number of pre-scored chips on a single wafer also allows the customer to apply their biology to the entire wafer rather than dealing with each chip as a separate process. This further reduces time and cost.

By reducing processing steps at every stage of glass chip production Nexterion® PreScora reduces time and cost along the value chain. This leads to an overall reduction in the COGs even for complex glass bio-chips.

Nexterion® PreScora is designed to make customization of glass biochips more affordable for more customers. By putting glass technology in more hands, we hope to continue to support those creating a brighter healthier future.