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A fabrication process for circular cross-section microfluidic channels

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000246867D
Publication Date: 2016-Jul-08
Document File: 2 page(s) / 52K

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Microfluidics technology is revolutionising analytical chemistry and the life sciences as we know it. Fluidics in general is a complex area of physics, but at microfluidic dimensions it inherently simplifies certain aspects by having laminar flow. Most microfabrication techniques for microfluidic devices do not lend themselves to making circular cross-sections due to the nature of physical and/or chemical etching. Furthermore, these techniques are expensive requiring expensive machinery. Additional difficulties are presented when attempting to create complex 3D network geometries. The following article discloses a fabrication method to create circular cross-section microfluidic channels, cheaply, and with the ability to make complex 3D microfluidic networks.

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A fabrication process for circular cross-section microfluidic channels

Here we describe a method to fabricate circular cross-section microfluidic channels without the use of expensive microfabrication machinery or even a cleanroom. Moreover, this invention enables the creation of complex 3D networks, which is not difficult with existing methods or can only limited in a certain plane. It should also be noted that circular cross-sections are advantageous as microfluidic properties are better understood due to analytical solutions and thus a method to make such channel networks are sought after in terms of well understood designs requiring fewer computationally expensive numerical simulations of designs. Furthermore circular cross-sections are mechanically more stable in flexible polymers substrate (channels will not collapse). Figure 1 below shows the fabrication steps.

Figure 1. Steps From wire frame to microfluidic channels.


    (a) Using a flame (or other heat source) capable of localised melting of the glass fibre similar to the methods used for making nanowires from fibre make nanowires [1]. This can be used to create bends, a fusion splicer can also be used to splice fibre and for microfluidic chambers and reservoirs by forming micro-spheres at the end of the fibre [2].

    (b) Frame is can be suspended in a mould with extruding fibre ends where the inputs and outputs to the channels will be. Monomer is poured into the mould and the polymer is cured which cann...