NR-Router+: Enhanced Non-Regular Electrode Routing With Optimal Pin Selection for Electrowetting-on-Dielectric Chips

IEEE Transactions on Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems(2024)

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With the advances in microfluidics, electrowettingon-dielectric (EWOD) chips have widely been applied to various biological and chemical laboratory protocols. Glass-based EWOD chips with non-regular electrodes are proposed, which allow more reliable droplet operations and facilitate the integration of optical sensors for many biochemical applications. Furthermore, non-regular electrode designs are utilized in EWOD chips, e.g., interdigitated electrodes for more reliable droplet manipulation, custom shaped electrodes for specific applications like concentric heating, etc. However, due to the technical challenges of fabricating multi-layer interconnection on the glass substrate, e.g., unreliable process and high cost, both control electrodes and wires are fabricated with a single-layer configuration, which poses significant challenges to pin selection for non-regular electrodes. In this paper, we propose a minimum-cost flow-based routing algorithm called NR-Router+ that features efficient and robust routing for single-layer EWOD chips with non-regular electrodes. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work that overcomes the aforementioned challenges. We construct a minimum-cost flow algorithm to generate optimal routing paths followed by a light-weight model to handle flow capacity. A grid reduction strategy is proposed to reduce the computational overhead. Additionally, a flow collocation algorithm based on integer linear programming is presented to efficiently prevent wire overlapping. Experimental results show that NR-Router+ achieves 100% routability while minimizing wirelength with shorter run time. Moreover, NR-Router+ can generate mask files feasible for manufacturing via adjustments of design parameters, thus demonstrating its robustness and efficiency.
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