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Development of a microfluidic chip for anti-counterfeiting in diagnosis


Counterfeit medical devices are nonfunctional products that mimic the look of authentic ones. Genuine tests with falsified labels and/or expiration dates also fall into the category of counterfeit medical devices. Such devices mostly target vital point-of-care instruments, including diabetes, HIV, and heart disease indicator tests.(1) This poses a serious risk for human health due to several unknowns in performance and quality. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that up to 8% of the medical devices in circulation are counterfeit.(2) As a result, the development and integration of functional and trustable security codes are on demand. 

Currently, two strategies including optical security codes and holograms are being used to combat the counterfeiting problem.(3) While the production of optical security codes is costly due to the technology required, holograms can easily be printed at low quality by counterfeiters. 

Combination of soft materials and microfluidics is an excellent approach to develop smart and functional security codes since mass-transport at the microscale brings a number of advantages including the generation of both static and dynamic codes, which are simple to operate but complex enough to avoid fake productions.


The overall goal of this project is to develop a microfluidic system for static or dynamic security code generation using hydrogels and microchannels. This project consists of several steps including, (1) identification of e.g. colorimetric reactions, swelling properties, etc. to be used as the main working mechanism, (2) design, and (3) optimization of a hydrogel-integrated microfluidic platform. Several model studies including high-content optical codes, (4) embedded bar-codes, (5) polymer microtaggants, (6) could be considered as a starting point to boost creativity in this project.


We are looking for enthusiastic students with a background in engineering or nanotechnology and a good understanding of chemistry.


  1. A.C.P. de Bruijn, C.G.J.C.A. de Vries, H.P.H. Hermsen (2009) Counterfeit medical devices: A risk indication, Letter report 360060001/2009, RIVM. (link:
  2. World Health Organization; UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/ WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases. In The use of visceral leishmaniasis rapid diagnostic tests; 2008; pp 3.
  3. Commission delegated regulation (EU). Official Journal of the European Union 2016, L32/1−27.
  4. Gökçe, O., Mercandetti, C., & Delamarche, E. (2018). High-Content Optical Codes for Protecting Rapid Diagnostic Tests from Counterfeiting. Analytical chemistry90(12), 7383-7390.
  5. Scherr, T. F., Gupta, S., Wright, D. W., & Haselton, F. R. (2017). An embedded barcode for “connected” malaria rapid diagnostic tests. Lab on a Chip17(7), 1314-1322.
  6. Han, S., Bae, H. J., Kim, J., Shin, S., Choi, S. E., Lee, S. H., ... & Park, W. (2012). Lithographically encoded polymer microtaggant using high‐capacity and error‐correctable QR code for anti‐counterfeiting of drugs. Advanced Materials24(44), 5924-5929.


Dr. Burcu Gumuscu, b.gumuscu