Improved Method for Fabrication of Microfluidic Devices Allowing Functional Tuning

Miniaturization of analytical methods and instrumentation for clinical applications is an area of burgeoning interest. Microchips have been developed for many applications in order to minimize both the time and space required to perform processes such as drug delivery and clinical diagnostic procedures. Microchips have thus been developed for a number of different applications including solid phase extraction, PCR amplification of purified DNA, and electrophoretic separations. However, the range of uses of the microchips has been inhibited by the properties of the glass or plastic substrates for the microchips. The disadvantages inherent using a glass substrate include limited control of electroosmotic flow (EOF) and the need for high bonding temperatures. Using a plastic substrate, in many cases, also results in low EOF and poor optical characteristics, including intrinsic fluorescence.

The current invention is an improved method for developing microfluidic devices coated with a novel polymeric material. This UV transparent coating solves many of the problems associated with the fabrication of microchips. This method allows the user to Ӧine-tuneԠthe EOF generated in the microchip for the specific sample analyzed. In addition, this coating could provide improved fluid dynamics and reduce the absorption of analytes and buffer components to the surface.

The bonding procedure using this polymer requires a substantially reduced annealing temperature (a few hundred degrees centigrade) and can be used to bond to a variety of substrates including glass, plastic, silicon, fused silica, or quartz. Furthermore, this bonding procedure could allow for hybrid devices to be created yielding microchips with different properties. For example, glass/silicon or glass/plastic devices become feasible and even glass/glass microchips, where one type of glass might be more amenable to etching while another type of glass might be better suited as a coverplate due to better optical properties.

Previous to this invention, such glass/glass hybrids were difficult, if not impossible, to fabricate. By adding this novel polymer coating to uncharged plastic substrates, an EOF can be generated allowing the production of cheaper, disposable microchips. This novel method has the potential to play a large role in the future exploitation of microchips for both clinical and research diagnostics.

Type of Offer: Licensing

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