This page will introduce the following materials for microfluidic chip manufacturing:
Paper is a highly porous and flexible material based on cellulose that is excellent at wicking liquids and has recently become a promising microfluidic material.
- It is an inexpensive substrate that can be easily chemically modified through composition/formulation changes or surface chemistry methods.
- Paper can be simply processed by burning or natural degradation.
- Paper can be used for biochemical analysis and medical and forensic diagnosis. Due to its weak mechanical properties and limited technology, it can only be used in limited applications.
- The porous structure of paper can also combine flow, filtration and separation.
- Paper is biocompatible, and the usual white background provides contrast for color-based detection methods.
- The detection of analytes in paper microfluidics can be colorimetry, electrochemistry, chemiluminescence and electrochemiluminescence. However, most paper microfluidic analysis devices rely on colorimetric detection.
However, the use of such materials poses some challenges: the channel size is very wide. Some liquids with low surface tension may not be well confined in the hydrophobic channel. It is also not suitable for use with external pumps or dispensers.
A hydrogel is a 3D network of hydrophilic polymer chains located in an aqueous medium. It is highly absorbent and highly porous, allowing molecules or particles to diffuse through. It also has hydrophilicity, high permeability, transparency as well as biocompatibility, and is an ideal material for encapsulating cells. Hydrogels are currently used in many applications, such as cell-cell interactions, drug delivery, artificial tissue constructs, and regenerative medicine.
Figure 1. The alginate-agar-based whole-hydrogel microfluidic device enabled cell-on-hydrogel AST. (a) Photograph of the mixed-gel device after fabrication; (b) Schematic of the AST that could be performed under the synergistic effect of two different antibiotics; (c) Antibiotic sensitivity tests using E. coli treated by ampicillin for 8 h; (d) Plot of the average length of bacterial cells in the circles that were denoted in panel (c). (Qin N, et al. 2021)
In recent years, researchers have developed a variety of microfluidic 3D cell culture platforms for the reconstruction of a complex and well-controlled 3D microenvironment that mimics the biotope. In particular, culturing cells in hydrogels has been shown to be useful in helping cells maintain their natural tissue-specific functions by mimicking the 3D tissue environment in the body.
Cyclic Olefin Copolymer Microfluidic Chip
COC is synthesized by the chain copolymerization of cyclic monomers with ethylene or by ring-opening polymerization of various cyclic monomers followed by hydrogenation, which has good moldability and low cost. It includes excellent light transmittance, biocompatibility, and high chemical resistance. The material also has low moisture absorption and high water resistance and heat resistance.
However, COC has brittleness and low thermal diffusivity, which may limit its use in certain applications. The material may also be attacked by non-polar organic solvents. COC microfluidic devices must undergo surface modification to separate hydrophobic compounds.
Paper/polymer hybrid microfluidic chip
The paper/polymer hybrid microfluidic device is based on the concept of a paper microfluidic chip while correcting its shortcomings. They can quickly immobilize biomolecules and provide high performance in terms of flow control. They are characterized by the inoperability of pure paper equipment.
These hybrid devices show high throughput and contribute to the immediate diagnosis of diseases. One of their many advantages is to avoid the complex surface modification that must be performed when using polymers.
Figure.2 Microfluidic devices with hydrophobic polymer substrate patterned with hydrophilic graphene oxide (GO) for the separation of liquid-liquid two-phase systems. (Alazzam A, et al. 2020)
- Qin N, et al. (2021). "Microfluidic Technology for Antibacterial Resistance Study and Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing: Review and Perspective." ACS Sens. 6(1): 3-21.
- Alazzam A, et al. (2020). "Microfluidic Devices with Patterned Wettability Using Graphene Oxide for Continuous Liquid-Liquid Two-Phase Separation." ACS Applied Nano Materials. 3(4): 3471-3477.
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