Univ.Prof. Peter Ertl, PhD

Univ.Prof. Peter Ertl, PhD

Institute of Applied Synthetic Chemistry
Institute of Chemical Technologies and Analytics
Faculty of Technical Chemistry

Vienna University of Technology
Getreidemarkt 9/163
1060 Vienna

Contact information

Tel. +43 1 58801 163605


Peter Ertl holds an engineering degree in Biotechnology (BOKU, Austria), a PhD in Chemistry (Univ. Waterloo, Canada) and received his postdoctoral training as a biophysicist at University of California at Berkeley (United States).

Additionally, in 2003 Dr. Ertl co-founded a biotech start-up company where he served a number of years as Director of Product Development in Kitchener-Waterloo (Canada) developing benchtop-sized cell analyzers.

In 2005 Dr. Ertl moved to Austria where he worked as Senior Scientist in the BioSensor Technology unit at the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology.
In 2016 he was appointed Professor for Lab-on-a-Chip Systems for Bioscience Technologies at the Faculty of Technical Chemistry of the Vienna University of Technology.

Dr. Ertl was also granted a Fulbright Visiting Scholarship at UC Berkeley in 2011/2012 and conducted visiting scientist positions at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore in 2013 and at the Medical Center of the University of California at San Francisco in 2014.

As Professor for Lab-on-a-Chip Systems in Bioscience Technologies at the Vienna University of Technology, his research focuses on the development of organ-on-a-chip and chip-in-organ systems for biomedical research.

In 2017 Dr. Ertl co-founded SAICO Biosystems KG (www.saico.at) a Vienna-based company that focuses on rapid prototyping of lab-on-a-chip systems for biomedical applications. Additionally Dr. Ertl is the spokesperson of the Austrian Microfluidics Initiative (www.bionanonet.at/austrian-microfluidics-initiative) which promotes all aspects of microfluidic project research and development.

Research Topics

My current research endeavors aim at the integration of optical and electrical microsensors, actuators and miniaturized fluid handling systems such as µvalves and pumps into microfluidic devices to develop automated lab-on-a-chip systems for applications in biotechnology and medicine. The main focus of my research is the development of:

advanced organ-on-a-chip technologies

self-powered sensing applications

next-generation microfluidic devices for cell analysis

implantable biosensors and smart implants

A variety of technologies are employed to achieve those goals including rapid prototyping, such as hot embossing and replica molding; micromachining including photolithography; material science aspects, including biocompatibilities, (bio)interfaces and (bio)functionalization methods; microfluidics including integrated pneumatic valves, micropumps, microdegassers and CFD simulations; as well as various biosensor technologies to monitor dynamic cell responses and activities.

Systems periphery and microfluidic instrumentation

Microfluidic applications require in addition to the biochip itself the necessary machinery to operate it including pumps, valves, and heaters and read out units as well as software for data evaluation, manipulation and storage. To date, most biochips are still operated manually requiring a specialized bioengineering expertise to efficiently perform sample loading, flow rate control and sample analysis. Since it is unreasonable for untrained microfluidics users to manually operate microfluidic biochips, further automation, miniaturization and integration is key for future translation of microdevices.

An important feature of our cell chip systems is the integration of micropumps and microvalves to manipulate and transport solutions at the microliter to nanoliter scale through the microchannels without the need for external syringe pumps and valves.

Schematic representation of system’s periphery to operate a lab-on-a-chip
Schematic representation of system’s periphery to operate a lab-on-a-chip

Our latest benchtop sized cellchip system consists of (1) a ‘time-lapse’ microscope, which automatically controls the measuring points in the chip and supplies transmitted light and / or fluorescence-based images; (2) a pumping system that supplies the growing cell cultures with nutrients and the intended concentrations of drugs; (3) a system capable of automatically controlling the on-chip pneumatic valves, and (4) a heated transparent sample carrier for cell culture.

My research group has been developing miniaturized analysis systems for a number of years, including lab-on-a-chip systems containing integrated electro- analytical (AMP, ECIS), magnetic (GMR) and optical (OPD) detection methods to continuously monitor blood glucose concentrations, viral contaminations, stem cell fitness, cancer interactions with tissue and immune cells, as well as nanoparticle uptake rates by various tissue types. Another focus of my research group for some years has been the combination of liquid handling systems, electronic components and sensory systems to develop next generation diagnostic devices for biomedical applications. Our latest cell chip system, for instance, consists of computer controlled and pneumatically-activated pumps and valves, degassers and a biochip containing embedded sensor arrays as well as electronic read out. This diagnostic platform can perform a variety of tasks including sample loading, rinsing and washing steps, reagent addition at specific concentrations and gradients, as well as multilevel cell analysis.