Heterogeneous Technologies for Microfluidic Systems

Abstract: In this thesis, conventional and unconventional technologies have been studied and combined in order to make heterogeneous microfluidics with potential advantages, especially in biological applications. Many conventional materials, like silicon, glass, thermoplastic polymers, polyimide and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) have been combined in building heterogeneous microfluidic devices or demonstrators. Aside from these materials, unconventional materials for microfluidics such as stainless steel and the fluoroelastomer Viton have been explored. The advantages of the heterogeneous technologies presented were demonstrated in several examples: (1) For instance, in cell biology, surface properties play an important role. Different functions were achieved by combining microengineering and surface modification. Two examples were made by depositing a Teflon-like film: a) a non-textured surface was made hydrophobic to allow higher pressures for cell migration studies and b) a surface textured by ion track technology was even made super-hydrophobic. (2) In microfluidics, microactuators used for fluid handling are important, e.g. in valves and pumps. Here, microactuators that can handle high-pressures were presented, which may allow miniaturization of high performance bioanalyses that until now have been restricted to larger instruments. (3) In some applications the elastomer PDMS cannot be used due to its high permeability and poor solvent resistivity. Viton can be a good replacement when elasticity is needed, like in the demonstrated paraffin actuated membrane.(4) Sensing of bio-molecules in aquatic solutions has potential in diagnostics on-site. A proof-of-principle demonstration of a potentially highly sensitive biosensor was made by integrating a robust solidly mounted resonator in a PDMS based microfluidic system. It is concluded that heterogeneous technologies are important for microfluidic systems like micro total analysis systems (µTAS) and lab-on-chip (LOC) devices.

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