Gayan C. Bandara, Christopher A. Heist, Vincent T. Remcho
ABSTRACT: Membrane based microfluidic devices have gained much popularity in recent years, as they make possible rapid, inexpensive analytical techniques that can be applied to a wide variety of areas. The ability to modify device hydrophilicity and hydrophobicity is critically important in fabricating membrane based microfluidic devices. Polar hydrophilic membranes, such as glass microfiber (GMF) membranes, hold great potential as they are inexpensive, chemically inert, and stable. Filling of these membranes with non-polar polymers such as polycaprolactone (PCL) converts the hydrophilic GMF into a hydrophobic medium. Controlled alteration of the surface chemistry of PCL/GMF substrates allows for the fabrication of microfluidic patterns on the surface. Using this approach, we have developed a simple and rapid technique for fabrication of highly adaptable complex multidimensional (2D and 3D) microfluidic pathways on a single membrane. PCL-filled GMF media were masked and selectively exposed to oxygen radicals so that the exposed surface became permanently superhydrophilic in its behavior. The desired microfluidic pattern was cut into the mask prior to assembly and exposure, and the mask was removed after exposure to reveal the ready-to-use microfluidic device. To verify and demonstrate the performance of this novel fabrication method, a colorimetric total protein assay was applied to the determination of protein concentrations in real samples.