Performance impact of dynamic surface coatings on polymeric insulator-based dielectrophoretic particle separators

Davalos, Rafael V.; McGraw, Gregory J.; Wallow, Thomas I.; Morales, Alfredo M.; Krafcik, Karen L.; Fintschenko, Yolanda; Cummings, Eric B.; Simmons, Blake A.
February 2008
Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry;Feb2008, Vol. 390 Issue 3, p847
Academic Journal
Efficient and robust particle separation and enrichment techniques are critical for a diverse range of lab-on-a-chip analytical devices including pathogen detection, sample preparation, high-throughput particle sorting, and biomedical diagnostics. Previously, using insulator-based dielectrophoresis (iDEP) in microfluidic glass devices, we demonstrated simultaneous particle separation and concentration of various biological organisms, polymer microbeads, and viruses. As an alternative to glass, we evaluate the performance of similar iDEP structures produced in polymer-based microfluidic devices. There are numerous processing and operational advantages that motivate our transition to polymers such as the availability of numerous innate chemical compositions for tailoring performance, mechanical robustness, economy of scale, and ease of thermoforming and mass manufacturing. The polymer chips we have evaluated are fabricated through an injection molding process of the commercially available cyclic olefin copolymer Zeonor 1060R. This publication is the first to demonstrate insulator-based dielectrophoretic biological particle differentiation in a polymeric device injection molded from a silicon master. The results demonstrate that the polymer devices achieve the same performance metrics as glass devices. We also demonstrate an effective means of enhancing performance of these microsystems in terms of system power demand through the use of a dynamic surface coating. We demonstrate that the commercially available nonionic block copolymer surfactant, Pluronic F127, has a strong interaction with the cyclic olefin copolymer at very low concentrations, positively impacting performance by decreasing the electric field necessary to achieve particle trapping by an order of magnitude. The presence of this dynamic surface coating, therefore, lowers the power required to operate such devices and minimizes Joule heating. The results of this study demonstrate that iDEP polymeric microfluidic devices with surfactant coatings provide an affordable engineering strategy for selective particle enrichment and sorting. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]


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