Thiol-ene and Thiol-ene-epoxy Based Polymers for Biomedical Microdevices

Abstract: Within healthcare there is a market pull for biomedical devices that can rapidly perform laboratory processes, such as diagnostic testing, in a hand-held format. For this reason, biomedical devices must become smaller, more sophisticated, and easier to use for a reasonable cost. However, despite the accelerating academic research on biomedical microdevices, and especially plastic-based microfluidic chips, there is still a gap between the inventions in academia and their benefit to society. To bridge this gap there is a need for new materials which both exhibit similar properties as industrial thermoplastics, and that enable rapid prototyping in academia.In this thesis, thiol-ene and thiol-ene-epoxy thermosets are evaluated both in terms of their suitability for rapid prototyping of biomedical microdevices and their potential for industrial manufacturing of “lab-on-chips”.The first part of the thesis focuses on material development of thiol-ene and thiol-ene-epoxy thermosets. Chemical and mechanical properties are studied, as well as in vitro biocompatibility with cells.The second part of the thesis focuses on microfabrication methods for both thermosets. This includes reaction injection molding, photostructuring, and surface modification. It is demonstrated how thiol-ene and thiol-ene-epoxy both provide advantageous thermo-mechanical properties and versatile surface modifications via “thiol-click chemistry”.In the end of the thesis, two applications for both polymer platforms are demonstrated. Firstly, thiol-ene is used for constructing nanoliter well arrays for liquid storage and on-demand electrochemical release. Secondly, thiol-ene-epoxy is used to enhance the biocompatibility of neural probes by tuning their flexibility.It is concluded that both thiol-ene and thiol-ene-epoxy thermosets exhibit several properties that are highly suitable for rapid prototyping as well as for scalable manufacturing of biomedical microdevices.