An innovative, cost-effective method for making and integrating fluidic microchannels. This method for ultra-rapid prototyping of microfluidic systems requiring fewer than 5 minutes from design to prototype uses liquid phase polymerization as an alternative to etching microchannels in silcone or glass.
The method consists of introducing liquid prepolymer into a plastic or glass cartridge, exposing the prepolymer to ultraviolet light through a mask to encourage photopolymerization and define channel geometry, removing the unpolymerized prepolymer, and rinsing the resulting microchannel.
The actuators used in this technology require nothing more than the chemicals surrounding them to monitor the chemistry, mimicking chemical balances as they are maintained in the human body. This new method is ideal for biological and medical applications requiring organic materials, no electronics or batteries, bioresponsiveness, and a single, uniform platform for processing. Potential applications include detection of biological and chemical agents, disease, and contaminants, and in vitro diagnostics and therapy devices. Other promising applications exist in the area of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).
The invention greatly reduces the time and cost associated with the creation of microfluidics systems and requires no experience in microfabrication techniques, no cleanroom facilities, and no expensive equipment. Easy integration enables a manufacturing environment to readily incorporate "add-on" fluidics. This new technology allows ultra rapid prototyping and iterative design, affords immediate production of components, and simplifies complex systems