Digital Microfluidics (DMF) is a second generation technique, derived from the conventional microfluidics that instead of using continuous liquid fluxes, it uses only individual droplets driven by external electric signals.
In this thesis a new DMF control/sensing system for visualization, droplet control (movement, dispensing, merging and splitting) and real time impedance measurement have been developed. The software for the proposed system was implemented in MATLAB with a graphical user interface. An Arduino was used as control board and dedicated circuits for voltage switching and contacts were designed and implemented in printed circuit boards. A high resolution camera was integrated for visualization. In our new approach, the DMF chips are driven by a dual-tone signal where the sum of two independent ac signals (one for droplet operations and the other for impedance sensing) is applied to the electrodes, and afterwards independently evaluated by a lock-in amplifier. With this new approach we were able to choose the appropriated amplitudes and frequencies for the different proposes (actuation and sensing). The measurements made were used to evaluate the real time droplet impedance enabling the knowledge of its position and velocity. This new approach opens new possibilities for impedance sensing and feedback control in DMF devices.
This thesis is one of the first reports of digital microfluidics on paper and the first in which the chip’s circuit was screen printed unto the paper. The use of the screen printing technique, being a low cost and fast method for electrodes deposition, makes the all chip processing much more aligned with the low cost choice of paper as a substrate. Functioning chips were developed that were capable of working at as low as 50 V, performing all the digital microfluidics operations: movement, dispensing, merging and splitting of the droplets. Silver ink electrodes were screen printed unto paper substrates, covered by Parylene-C (through vapor deposition) as dielectric and Teflon AF 1600 (through spin coating) as hydrophobic layer. The morphology of different paper substrates, silver inks (with different annealing conditions) and Parylene deposition conditions were studied by optical microscopy, AFM, SEM and 3D profilometry. Resolution tests for the printing process and electrical characterization of the silver electrodes were also made. As a showcase of the applications potential of these chips as a biosensing device, a colorimetric peroxidase detection test was successfully done on chip, using 200 nL to 350 nL droplets dispensed from 1 μL drops.
The inaugural conference on Advances in Microfluidics and Nanofluidics was held at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology on 5–7 January 2009 and brought together leading researchers from across a wide variety of disciplines from North America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. This Special Topic section forms the second of the two issues dedicated to original contributions covering both fundamental physicochemical aspects of microfluidics and nanofluidics as well as their applications to the miniaturization of chemical and biological systems that were presented at the conference.
In this paper, we demonstrate for the first time the technique to using microfluidics to fabricate tissue engineering scaffolds with uniform pore sizes. We investigate both the bubble generation of the microfluidic device and the application of foam as a tissue engineering scaffold. Our microfluidic device consists of two concentric tapered channels, which are made by micropipettes. Nitrogen gas and aqueous alginate solution with Pluronic® F127 surfactant are pumped through the inner and the outer channels, respectively. We observe rich dynamic patterns of bubbles encapsulated in the liquid droplets. The size of the bubble depends linearly on the gas pressure and inversely on the liquid flow rate. In addition, monodisperse bubbles self-assemble into crystalline structures. The liquid crystalline foams are further processed into open-cell solid foams. The novel foam gel was used as a scaffold to culture chondrocytes.
Living cells are a fascinating demonstration of nature’s most intricate and well-coordinated micromechanical objects. They crawl, spread, contract, and relax—thus performing a multitude of complex mechanical functions. Alternatively, they also respond to physical and chemical cues that lead to remodeling of the cytoskeleton. To understand this intricate coupling between mechanical properties, mechanical function and force-induced biochemical signaling requires tools that are capable of both controlling and manipulating the cell microenvironment and measuring the resulting mechanical response. In this review, the power of microfluidics as a functional tool for research in cell mechanics is highlighted. In particular, current literature is discussed to show that microfluidics powered by soft lithographic techniques offers the following capabilities that are of significance for understanding the mechanical behavior of cells: (i) Microfluidics enables the creation of in vitro models of physiological environments in which cell mechanics can be probed. (ii) Microfluidics is an excellent means to deliver physical cues that affect cell mechanics, such as cell shape, fluid flow, substrate topography, and stiffness. (iii) Microfluidics can also expose cells to chemical cues...
In this special issue of Biomicrofluidics, many manifestations of biological microfluidics have been highlighted that have significance to regenerative biology and medicine. The collated articles demonstrate the applicability of these biological microfluidics for studying a wide range of biomedical problems most useful for understanding and shining light on basic biology to those applications relevant to clinical medicine.
Microfluidic techniques have been recently developed for cell-based assays. In microfluidic systems, the objective is for these microenvironments to mimic in vivo surroundings. With advantageous characteristics such as optical transparency and the capability for automating protocols, different types of cells can be cultured, screened, and monitored in real time to systematically investigate their morphology and functions under well-controlled microenvironments in response to various stimuli. Recently, the study of stem cells using microfluidic platforms has attracted considerable interest. Even though stem cells have been studied extensively using bench-top systems, an understanding of their behavior in in vivo-like microenvironments which stimulate cell proliferation and differentiation is still lacking. In this paper, recent cell studies using microfluidic systems are first introduced. The various miniature systems for cell culture, sorting and isolation, and stimulation are then systematically reviewed. The main focus of this review is on papers published in recent years studying stem cells by using microfluidic technology. This review aims to provide experts in microfluidics an overview of various microfluidic systems for stem cell research.
Cell movement is highly sensitive to stimuli from the extracellular matrix and media. Receptors on the plasma membrane in cells can activate signal transduction pathways that change the mechanical behavior of a cell by reorganizing motion-related organelles. Cancer cells change their migration mechanisms in response to different environments more robustly than noncancer cells. Therefore, therapeutic approaches to immobilize cancer cells via inhibition of the related signal transduction pathways rely on a better understanding of cell migration mechanisms. In recent years, engineers have been working with biologists to apply microfluidics technology to study cell migration. As opposed to conventional cultures on dishes, microfluidics deals with the manipulation of fluids that are geometrically constrained to a submillimeter scale. Such small scales offer a number of advantages including cost effectiveness, low consumption of reagents, high sensitivity, high spatiotemporal resolution, and laminar flow. Therefore, microfluidics has a potential as a new platform to study cell migration. In this review, we summarized recent progress on the application of microfluidics in cancer and other cell migration researches. These studies have enhanced our understanding of cell migration and cancer invasion as well as their responses to subtle variations in their microenvironment. We hope that this review will serve as an interdisciplinary guidance for both biologists and engineers as they further develop the microfluidic toolbox toward applications in cancer research.
In this special issue of Biomicrofluidics, a wide variety of applications of microfluidics to tissue engineering and cell biology are presented. The articles illustrate the benefits of using microfluidics for controlling the cellular environment in a precise yet high rate manner using minimum reagents. The topic is very timely and takes a stab at portraying a glimpse of what is to come in this exciting and emerging field of research.
“Paper-based microfluidics” or “lab on paper,” as a burgeoning research field with its beginning in 2007, provides a novel system for fluid handling and fluid analysis for a variety of applications including health diagnostics, environmental monitoring as well as food quality testing. The reasons why paper becomes an attractive substrate for making microfluidic systems include: (1) it is a ubiquitous and extremely cheap cellulosic material; (2) it is compatible with many chemical/biochemical/medical applications; and (3) it transports liquids using capillary forces without the assistance of external forces. By building microfluidic channels on paper, liquid flow is confined within the channels, and therefore, liquid flow can be guided in a controlled manner. A variety of 2D and even 3D microfluidic channels have been created on paper, which are able to transport liquids in the predesigned pathways on paper. At the current stage of its development, paper-based microfluidic system is claimed to be low-cost, easy-to-use, disposable, and equipment-free, and therefore, is a rising technology particularly relevant to improving the healthcare and disease screening in the developing world, especially for those areas with no- or low-infrastructure and limited trained medical and health professionals. The research in paper-based microfluidics is experiencing a period of explosion; most published works have focused on: (1) inventing low-cost and simple fabrication techniques for paper-based microfluidic devices; and (2) exploring new applications of paper-based microfluidics by incorporating efficient detection methods. This paper aims to review both the fabrication techniques and applications of paper-based microfluidics reported to date. This paper also attempts to convey to the readers...
Stem cell research can significantly benefit from recent advances of microfluidics technology. In a rationally designed microfluidics device, analyses of stem cells can be done in a much deeper and wider way than in a conventional tissue culture dish. Miniaturization makes analyses operated in a high-throughput fashion, while controls of fluids help to reconstruct the physiological environments. Through integration with present characterization tools like fluorescent microscope, microfluidics offers a systematic way to study the decision-making process of stem cells, which has attractive medical applications. In this paper, recent progress of microfluidics devices on stem cell research are discussed. The purpose of this review is to highlight some key features of microfluidics for stem cell biologists, as well as provide physicists/engineers an overview of how microfluidics has been and could be used for stem cell research.
The use of biomarkers to infer drug response in patients is being actively pursued, yet significant challenges with this approach, including the complicated interconnection of pathways, have limited its application. Direct empirical testing of tumor sensitivity would arguably provide a more reliable predictive value, although it has garnered little attention largely due to the technical difficulties associated with this approach. We hypothesize that the application of recently developed microtechnologies, coupled to more complex 3-dimensional cell cultures, could provide a model to address some of these issues. As a proof of concept, we developed a microfluidic device where spheroids of the serous epithelial ovarian cancer cell line TOV112D are entrapped and assayed for their chemoresponse to carboplatin and paclitaxel, two therapeutic agents routinely used for the treatment of ovarian cancer. In order to index the chemoresponse, we analyzed the spatiotemporal evolution of the mortality fraction, as judged by vital dyes and confocal microscopy, within spheroids subjected to different drug concentrations and treatment durations inside the microfluidic device. To reflect microenvironment effects, we tested the effect of exogenous extracellular matrix and serum supplementation during spheroid formation on their chemotherapeutic response. Spheroids displayed augmented chemoresistance in comparison to monolayer culturing. This resistance was further increased by the simultaneous presence of both extracellular matrix and high serum concentration during spheroid formation. Following exposure to chemotherapeutics...
According to the World Health Organization, cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Cancer research, in its all facets, is truly interdisciplinary in nature, cutting across the fields of fundamental and applied sciences, as well as biomedical engineering. In recent years, microfluidics has been applied successfully in cancer research. There remain, however, many elusive features of this disease, where microfluidic systems could throw new lights. In addition, some inherent features of microfluidic systems remain unexploited in cancer research. In this article, we first briefly review the advancement of microfluidics in cancer biology. We then describe the biophysical aspects of cancer and outline how microfluidic system could be useful in developing a deeper understanding on the underlying mechanisms. We next illustrate the effects of the confined environment of microchannel on cellular dynamics and argue that the tissue microconfinement could be a crucial facet in tumor development. Lastly, we attempt to highlight some of the most important problems in cancer biology, to inspire next level of microfluidic applications in cancer research.
Although the field of microfluidics has made significant progress in bringing new tools to address biological questions, the accessibility and adoption of microfluidics within the life sciences are still limited. Open microfluidic systems have the potential to lower the barriers to adoption, but the absence of robust design rules has hindered their use. Here, we present an open microfluidic platform, suspended microfluidics, that uses surface tension to fill and maintain a fluid in microscale structures devoid of a ceiling and floor. We developed a simple and ubiquitous model predicting fluid flow in suspended microfluidic systems and show that it encompasses many known capillary phenomena. Suspended microfluidics was used to create arrays of collagen membranes, mico Dots (μDots), in a horizontal plane separating two fluidic chambers, demonstrating a transwell platform able to discern collective or individual cellular invasion. Further, we demonstrated that μDots can also be used as a simple multiplexed 3D cellular growth platform. Using the μDot array, we probed the combined effects of soluble factors and matrix components, finding that laminin mitigates the growth suppression properties of the matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor GM6001. Based on the same fluidic principles...
Since its inception, the discipline of microfluidics has been harnessed for innovations in the biomedicine/chemistry fields—and to great effect. This success has had the natural side-effect of stereotyping microfluidics as a platform for medical diagnostics and miniaturized lab processes. But microfluidics has more to offer. And very recently, some researchers have successfully applied microfluidics to fields outside its traditional domains. In this Focus article, we highlight notable examples of such “unconventional” microfluidics applications (e.g., robotics, electronics). It is our hope that these early successes in unconventional microfluidics prompt further creativity, and inspire readers to expand the microfluidics discipline.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Rochester. Materials Science Program, 2008.; Lab-on-a-chip technology is based on the integration of microfluidics for liquid handling with miniaturized analytical devices or diagnostic instruments for the performance of chemical/biomedical protocols. In this dissertation, timing-based dynamic control and optical-sensing based feedback control are developed based on dielectrophoretic (DEP) microfluidics. A dielectric-coated three-electrode device with a T-junction gap is fabricated as a platform for liquid finger actuation and trapping using AC voltage. Upon voltage removal, capillary instability breaks the trapped finger into uniformly spaced droplets following Rayleigh’s theory. Several sets of electrode dimensions, T-junction configurations, and coating materials are tested, and their influences on actuation voltage, finger profile and droplet formation uniformity are examined to optimize actuation reliability. DEP finger actuation is modeled by lumped electromechanics, and a reduced-order hydrodynamic model that incorporates contact line friction. The predicted dynamics is least squares fitted to the experimental data, yielding contact-line-friction coefficients. Based on the prediction, an open-loop scheme using timing control is developed for control of trapped finger length and droplet number. This scheme realizes functional droplet metering; however...
Microfluidics is a rapidly developing field of innovation, which provides the chemical, medical and (bio)pharmaceutical industries with a much more efficient substitute for the use of well plates, syringes, etc., to perform multiple manipulations and anal
We present two novel methods for the preparation of arbitrary micro-scale patterns of polymers on surfaces with pre-defined topography. While photosensitive polymers are used commonly together with optical lithography, the methods presented can be used for nonphotostructurable polymers and where spin-coating cannot be performed. As demonstrator of the viability of the proposed fabrication process, they have been applied for the definition of hydrophobic barriers on a microfluidics network, which is dedicated to selectively dispense liquid to a spotting device consisting of 12 silicon microcantilevers.; Peer reviewed
Integrated sensing systems are designed to address a variety of problems, including clinical diagnosis, water quality testing, and air quality testing. The growing prevalence of tropical diseases in the developing world, such as malaria, trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), and tuberculosis, provides a clear and present impetus for portable, low cost diagnostics both to improve treatment outcomes and to prevent the development of drug resistance in a population. The increasing scarcity of available clean, fresh water, especially noticeable in the developing world, also presents a motivation for low-cost water quality diagnostic tools to prevent exposure of people to contaminated water supplies and to monitor those water supplies to effectively mitigate their contamination. In the developed world, the impact of second-hand cigarette smoke is receiving increased attention, and measuring its effects on public health have become a priority. The `point-of-need' technologies required to address these sensing problems cannot achieve a widespread and effective level of use unless low-cost, small form-factor, portable sensing devices can be realized. Optical sensors based on low cost polymer materials have the potential to address the aforementioned `point-of-need' sensing problems by leveraging low-cost materials and fabrication processes. For portable clinical diagnostics and water quality testing in particular...
While drug-loaded biodegradable polymer microparticles have found many therapeutic applications, bulk manufacturing methods produce heterogeneous populations of particles. A more highly controlled manufacturing method may provide the ability improve the microparticle characteristics such as the drug release profile. Microfluidic droplet-makers manipulate liquids on the scale of tens of microns and can produce highly regular and controlled emulsions. However, microfluidic droplet manufacturing is not typically designed for clinical translation and the chemicals used are often not biocompatible.
I developed a two-chip PDMS-based microfluidic device that can manufacture PLGA microparticle loaded with hydrophilic or hydrophobic drugs. I characterized protein-loaded microparticles made using this device and compared them with bulk-generated microparticles. The microfluidics-generated microparticles had similar release curves and encapsulation efficiencies as bulk-generated microparticles but a much narrower size distribution. I generated peanut protein-loaded microparticles with this device and tested them in a mouse model of peanut allergy, improving the particles as the project evolved to have a higher loading level and lower burst release. The microparticles improved the safety and efficacy of an immunotherapy protocol. I also encapsulated hydrophilic and hydrophobic chemotherapeutic drugs for a brain cancer model.