Versatile, flexible and biocompatible elastomeric microtubesTechnology #15036n
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Broad applications involving microfluidics: cell sorting, Organ-on-chips, micro-pump etc.
Exclusive/ non-exclusive licensing
Partnership in commercial development
ILO Ref: 15036N
Dr He Cairan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Industry Liaison Office, NUS Enterprise
Inventors: Prof. Lim Chwee Teck
Simple, robust and economical fabrication process
Easy for scale up mass production
Key platform technology for many applications
Microfluidics devices made of elastomeric materials such as polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) normally consist of microfluidic channels specifically designed to perform tasks such as microscale manipulation, analysis and sorting of micro and nanoscale entities such as biomolecules, cells and particles. However, the conventional fabrication of microfluidics always involves the complicated photolithography process which is expensive, limits microfluidic channel geometry to rectangular cross-section and is difficult to form complex three-dimensional (3D) microstructures. All these pose a barrier for the wider adoption of this technique. Here, we present a novel, cheap and efficient method to fabricate microfluidic tubes (microtubes) with circular cross-section from a variety of elastomeric materials.
These microtubes have an inner diameter that can range from 10 to 400μm and outer diameter that can be controlled depending on needs. The length of the microtubes, can in theory be infinitely long although we have demonstrated production of microtubes that stretch over several tens of centimeters. Using these elastomeric microtubes as basic building blocks, it is now possible to design and produce microfluidic devices without the need for photolithography. This not only radically changes the way we design and build microfluidic devices, but also provides the versatility for us to alter the design of the microfluidic devices at will without the need to redesign and refabricate the whole microfluidic device again. Instead, these microtubes can be added or removed to make changes to the design of the microfluidic device which can be two dimensional (2D) or even 3D in configuration. The ability of these elastic microtubes to be assembled and disassembled enables the fast patterning of microchannels into almost any architectures as and when wanted. We see not only significant reduction in the cost, but also time taken to design, build and test these microfluidic devices. In addition, the microtube can be biocompatible, flexible, gas permeable and highly transparent and will make an excellent candidate for producing biomedical devices for various applications. These may include flexible microfluidics, artificial skins, organs-on-chips, mimicking of blood vessel and capillary network, opto-microfluidics and 3D bioreactors.
Abdelgawad, M.; Wu, C.; Chien, W.-Y.; Geddie, W. R.; Jewett, M. A. S.; Sun, Y., A fast and simple method to fabricate circular microchannels in polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). Lab Chip 2011, 11 (3), 545-551.
The proposed invention has been successfully implemented and verified on a laboratory scale set up. Data is available for demonstration to interested parties.
About the Inventors
Prof. Lim Chwee Teck is a Provost’s Chair Professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering and also a Principal Investigator at both the Mechanobiology Institute and Centre for Advanced 2D Materials. His research interests include 2D nanomaterials, biomedical devices and mechanobiology.
Figure 1: (A) Schematic view of the experimental set-up for PDMS microtubes fabrication. (B) Images of PDMS microtubes with circular cross-sections at different inner diameters (sideview, IDs are indicated by orange text at the top of each figures). Scale bars: 30 μm for ID (Φ) = 10 μm, 75 μm for Φ = 25 μm and 100μm for the rest. (C) Transverse planes of tubes with varying cross-sectional shapes. Scale bar: 250μm.