Portable Microfluidic Platform Employing Young-Laplace Pumping For Multiplexed Lab-On-A-Chip Applications

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Mahlberg, Leonard
Microfluidics , Analytical , Pumping , Flow
Fast, cost-effective, portable and simple to use devices are highly relevant in the current field of medicine. “Lab-on-a-chip” devices are of special interest, as they enable the user to quickly perform tests with small concentrations of sample/analyte. The invention of affordable solutions to accurately perform sample preparation and analysis without the need for expensive equipment and trained personnel is of significant importance to our society. Specifically, the accurate distribution of microliter-sized volumes onto microfluidic systems is a process that needs to be streamlined to make the use of “lab-on-a-chip” devices as straightforward as possible. This work focuses on the development of a platform that utilizes surface tension induced pumping based on Young-Laplace pressure, which allows modifiable transport of fluids without external modules, making it an attractive approach for microfluidic applications. Using 3D-printing, a platform was developed that enables the distribution of specific liquid volumes onto a superhydrophobic chip that is modified with (super)hydrophilic areas called surface energy traps (SETs). The SETs are fabricated by a facile picosecond laser micromachining ablation method out of commercial NeverWetTM coated glass slides. The 3D printed platform allows for simultaneous initiation of Young-Laplace induced pumping on a chip. Furthermore, the flowrate of Young-Laplace induced pumping is adjustable through different designs and SET parameters (including length, width, and radius), allowing detailed flow control over liquid transport. Droplets within the range of 10-140 μL (7.3% deviation) can be distributed using adjustable and interchangeable component designs. Moreover, it is shown that the advantages and flexibility of this platform can be employed to enable and simplify the process of simultaneous on-chip experiments for silver nanoparticle and nanocluster synthesis. This work builds a promising groundwork for future lab-on-a-chip devices. An approach is discussed that can be employed to design and develop on-chip bio-immunoassays (e.g. employing sandwich-ELISA) for pathogen detection utilizing the platform developed in this work, thus creating a portable affordable and simple to use point of care lab-on-a-chip device that possesses significant value and interest to the field of medicine and to society overall.
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