Towards Widespread Adoption of Automated Microfluidic Systems
Au, Anthony Ka-Wai
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In recent years, sophisticated new microfluidic devices showcasing high degrees of throughput and parallelization have offered great promise towards increasing the speed and efficiency at which research is performed in life science research. Additionally, the precise control over fluids and topographies at the microscale enables the development of novel assays for cell biology. However, the actual widespread adoption of microfluidic technologies by researchers in other fields is far from being realized, and one of the major barriers to this is the complexity and difficulty of microfluidic device set up and operation. In order to successfully make use of a microfluidic device with automated functionality, one must not only possess the specialized equipment used to operate it, but also be able to properly interface external components with the device and control its operation, the complexity of which has mostly limited the use of microfluidic devices to specialists within the field thus far. Here, we develop improved fluidic and pneumatic interfacing schemes and applied them to a microvalve-based device designed for clean, precise fluid switching. We additionally present a user-friendly, self-contained platform for the automated control of our device and demonstrate a cell stimulation platform designed for investigating large numbers of single, dissociated cells. We then apply a modification of the platform geared towards the identification of rare responsive cells within a heterogeneous cell population. The use of stereolithography for the fabrication of microfluidic devices, as an alternative to PDMS soft lithography, is explored. Finally, novel valving devices created exclusively using stereolithography with no bonding steps are demonstrated.
- Bioengineering