Nav: Home

SUTD researchers developed new methods to create microfluidic devices with fluoropolymers

February 06, 2019

Currently, a wide range of applications has been demonstrated using microfluidic devices made of silicone rubbers (such as polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)), including materials syntheses, separation and sorting, diagnostics and bioanalysis. The reason for the popularity of PDMS in academic laboratories is the simplicity of the fabrication and well-characterised properties of PDMS. However, PDMS are not compatible with strong organic solvents; they quickly swell silicone-based materials. To this end, microfluidic channels possessing chemical and solvent compatibility would be desirable.

A research team from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), led by Assistant Professor Michinao Hashimoto, developed a simple method to fabricate microchannels using fluoropolymers - a general class of polymers including TeflonTM that are highly inert against the exposure to chemicals and solvents. The research group applied xurography (i.e. a method of digital fabrication to cut films with a motion-controlled razor blade to create stencils) to cut films of fluoropolymers and heat-press to from microchannels. It takes less than 1 hour to make microchannels from designing to assembling using this method.

The research team has identified proper conditions of heat pressing (i.e. temperature, time and pressure) for two common fluoropolymers: polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP). Furthermore, the team confirmed the fluoropolymer microfluidic channels' resistance to a set of organic solvents that would not be compatible with typical devices fabricated in PDMS.

Principal investigator, Dr Hashimoto said: "This work is the first demonstration to bridge the gap to rapidly fabricate microfluidic channels using fluoropolymers. Microchannels consisting of fluoropolymers can be useful in performing organic syntheses of materials and drugs as well as regulating adhesion of biological molecules, cells and bacteria. This method is extremely simple, and we believe it can be performed by literally any researcher--including non-engineers--for various applications that require the inert and non-reactive properties of the channels."

This new prototyping technique has been published in Biomicrofluidics, a reputable journal focused on research in unique microfluidic and nanofluidic techniques. An SUTD visiting students (Takuma Hizawa) and two postdoctoral researchers (Atsushi Takano, Pravien Parthiban) participated in this project together with the senior authors (Prof. Eiji Iwase, Waseda University, Japan, and Prof. Patrick Doyle, MIT, USA).
-end-


Singapore University of Technology and Design

Related Research Articles:

More Research News and Research Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Space
One of the most consistent questions we get at the show is from parents who want to know which episodes are kid-friendly and which aren't. So today, we're releasing a separate feed, Radiolab for Kids. To kick it off, we're rerunning an all-time favorite episode: Space. In the 60's, space exploration was an American obsession. This hour, we chart the path from romance to increasing cynicism. We begin with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan, with a story about the Voyager expedition, true love, and a golden record that travels through space. And astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson explains the Coepernican Principle, and just how insignificant we are. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.