“Paper-based microfluidics” or “lab on paper,” as a burgeoning research field with its beginning in 2007, provides a novel system for fluid handling and fluid analysis for a variety of applications including health diagnostics, environmental monitoring as well as food quality testing. The reasons why paper becomes an attractive substrate for making microfluidic systems include: (1) it is a ubiquitous and extremely cheap cellulosic material; (2) it is compatible with many chemical/biochemical/medical applications; and (3) it transports liquids using capillary forces without the assistance of external forces. By building microfluidic channels on paper, liquid flow is confined within the channels, and therefore, liquid flow can be guided in a controlled manner. A variety of 2D and even 3D microfluidic channels have been created on paper, which are able to transport liquids in the predesigned pathways on paper. At the current stage of its development, paper-based microfluidic system is claimed to be low-cost, easy-to-use, disposable, and equipment-free, and therefore, is a rising technology particularly relevant to improving the healthcare and disease screening in the developing world, especially for those areas with no- or low-infrastructure and limited trained medical and health professionals. The research in paper-based microfluidics is experiencing a period of explosion; most published works have focused on: (1) inventing low-cost and simple fabrication techniques for paper-based microfluidic devices; and (2) exploring new applications of paper-based microfluidics by incorporating efficient detection methods. This paper aims to review both the fabrication techniques and applications of paper-based microfluidics reported to date. This paper also attempts to convey to the readers, from the authors’ point of view the current limitations of paper-based microfluidics which require further research, and a few perspective directions this new analytical system may take in its development.
A review is presented of the present status of the theory, the developed technology and the current applications of dielectrophoresis (DEP). Over the past 10 years around 2000 publications have addressed these three aspects, and current trends suggest that the theory and technology have matured sufficiently for most effort to now be directed towards applying DEP to unmet needs in such areas as biosensors, cell therapeutics, drug discovery, medical diagnostics, microfluidics, nanoassembly, and particle filtration. The dipole approximation to describe the DEP force acting on a particle subjected to a nonuniform electric field has evolved to include multipole contributions, the perturbing effects arising from interactions with other cells and boundary surfaces, and the influence of electrical double-layer polarizations that must be considered for nanoparticles. Theoretical modelling of the electric field gradients generated by different electrode designs has also reached an advanced state. Advances in the technology include the development of sophisticated electrode designs, along with the introduction of new materials (e.g., silicone polymers, dry film resist) and methods for fabricating the electrodes and microfluidics of DEP devices (photo and electron beam lithography, laser ablation, thin film techniques, CMOS technology). Around three-quarters of the 300 or so scientific publications now being published each year on DEP are directed towards practical applications, and this is matched with an increasing number of patent applications. A summary of the US patents granted since January 2005 is given, along with an outline of the small number of perceived industrial applications (e.g., mineral separation, micropolishing, manipulation and dispensing of fluid droplets, manipulation and assembly of micro components). The technology has also advanced sufficiently for DEP to be used as a tool to manipulate nanoparticles (e.g., carbon nanotubes, nano wires, gold and metal oxide nanoparticles) for the fabrication of devices and sensors. Most efforts are now being directed towards biomedical applications, such as the spatial manipulation and selective separation/enrichment of target cells or bacteria, high-throughput molecular screening, biosensors, immunoassays, and the artificial engineering of three-dimensional cell constructs. DEP is able to manipulate and sort cells without the need for biochemical labels or other bioengineered tags, and without contact to any surfaces. This opens up potentially important applications of DEP as a tool to address an unmet need in stem cell research and therapy.
Non-invasive and accurate access of biomarkers remains a holy grail of the biomedical community. Human eccrine sweat is a surprisingly biomarker-rich fluid which is gaining increasing attention. This is especially true in applications of continuous bio-monitoring where other biofluids prove more challenging, if not impossible. However, much confusion on the topic exists as the microfluidics of the eccrine sweat gland has never been comprehensively presented and models of biomarker partitioning into sweat are either underdeveloped and/or highly scattered across literature. Reported here are microfluidic models for eccrine sweat generation and flow which are coupled with review of blood-to-sweat biomarker partition pathways, therefore providing insights such as how biomarker concentration changes with sweat flow rate. Additionally, it is shown that both flow rate and biomarker diffusion determine the effective sampling rate of biomarkers at the skin surface (chronological resolution). The discussion covers a broad class of biomarkers including ions (Na+, Cl-, K+, NH4+), small molecules (ethanol, cortisol, urea, and lactate), and even peptides or small proteins (neuropeptides and cytokines). The models are not meant to be exhaustive for all biomarkers, yet collectively serve as a foundational guide for further development of sweat-based diagnostics and for those beginning exploration of new biomarker opportunities in sweat. (C) 2015 Author(s).
The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a critical structure that serves as the gatekeeper between the central nervous system and the rest of the body. It is the responsibility of the BBB to facilitate the entry of required nutrients into the brain and to exclude potentially harmful compounds; however, this complex structure has remained difficult to model faithfully in vitro. Accurate in vitro models are necessary for understanding how the BBB forms and functions, as well as for evaluating drug and toxin penetration across the barrier. Many previous models have failed to support all the cell types involved in the BBB formation and/or lacked the flowcreated shear forces needed for mature tight junction formation. To address these issues and to help establish a more faithful in vitro model of the BBB, we have designed and fabricated a microfluidic device that is comprised of both a vascular chamber and a brain chamber separated by a porous membrane. This design allows for cell-to-cell communication between endothelial cells, astrocytes, and pericytes and independent perfusion of both compartments separated by the membrane. This NeuroVascular Unit (NVU) represents approximately one-millionth of the human brain, and hence, has sufficient cell mass to support a breadth of analytical measurements. The NVU has been validated with both fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-dextran diffusion and transendothelial electrical resistance. The NVU has enabled in vitro modeling of the BBB using all human cell types and sampling effluent from both sides of the barrier. (C) 2015 Author(s). All article content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Isolation and enumeration of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are used to monitor metastatic disease progression and guide cancer therapy. However, currently available technologies are limited to cells expressing specific cell surface markers, such as epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) or have limited specificity because they are based on cell size alone. We developed a device, ApoStream™ that overcomes these limitations by exploiting differences in the biophysical characteristics between cancer cells and normal, healthy blood cells to capture CTCs using dielectrophoretic technology in a microfluidic flow chamber. Further, the system overcomes throughput limitations by operating in continuous mode for efficient isolation and enrichment of CTCs from blood. The performance of the device was optimized using a design of experiment approach for key operating parameters such as frequency, voltage and flow rates, and buffer formulations. Cell spiking studies were conducted using SKOV3 or MDA-MB-231 cell lines that have a high and low expression level of EpCAM, respectively, to demonstrate linearity and precision of recovery independent of EpCAM receptor levels. The average recovery of SKOV3 and MDA-MB-231 cancer cells spiked into approximately 12 × 106 peripheral blood mononuclear cells obtained from 7.5 ml normal human donor blood was 75.4% ± 3.1% (n = 12) and 71.2% ± 1.6% (n = 6), respectively. The intra-day and inter-day precision coefficients of variation of the device were both less than 3%. Linear regression analysis yielded a correlation coefficient (R2) of more than 0.99 for a spiking range of 4–2600 cells. The viability of MDA-MB-231 cancer cells captured with ApoStream was greater than 97.1% and there was no difference in cell growth up to 7 days in culture compared to controls. The ApoStream device demonstrated high precision and linearity of recovery of viable cancer cells independent of their EpCAM expression level. Isolation and enrichment of viable cancer cells from ApoStream enables molecular characterization of CTCs from a wide range of cancer types.
We report the successful fabrication and testing of 3D printed microfluidic devices with integrated membrane-based valves. Fabrication is performed with a low-cost commercially available stereolithographic 3D printer. Horizontal microfluidic channels with designed rectangular cross sectional dimensions as small as 350 mu m wide and 250 mu m tall are printed with 100% yield, as are cylindrical vertical microfluidic channels with 350 mu m designed (210 mu m actual) diameters. Based on our previous work [Rogers et al., Anal. Chem. 83, 6418 (2011)], we use a custom resin formulation tailored for low non-specific protein adsorption. Valves are fabricated with a membrane consisting of a single build layer. The fluid pressure required to open a closed valve is the same as the control pressure holding the valve closed. 3D printed valves are successfully demonstrated for up to 800 actuations. (c) 2015 AIP Publishing LLC.
Cell isolation in designated regions or from heterogeneous samples is often required for many microfluidic cell-based assays. However, current techniques have either limited throughput or are incapable of viable off-chip collection. We present an innovative approach, allowing high-throughput and label-free cell isolation and enrichment from heterogeneous solution using cell size as a biomarker. The approach utilizes the irreversible migration of particles into microscale vortices, developed in parallel expansion-contraction trapping reservoirs, as the cell isolation mechanism. We empirically determined the critical particle/cell diameter D crt and the operational flow rate above which trapping of cells/particles in microvortices is initiated. Using this approach we successfully separated larger cancer cells spiked in blood from the smaller blood cells with processing rates as high as 7.5 × 10 6 cells / s . Viable long-term culture was established using cells collected off-chip, suggesting that the proposed technique would be useful for clinical and research applications in which in vitro culture is often desired. The presented technology improves on current technology by enriching cells based on size without clogging mechanical filters, employing only a simple single-layered microfluidic device and processing cell solutions at the ml/min scale.
Thanks to its unique features at the nanoscale, nanofluidics, the study and application of fluid flow in nanochannels/nanopores with at least one characteristic size smaller than 100 nm, has enabled the occurrence of many interesting transport phenomena and has shown great potential in both bio- and energy-related fields. The unprecedented growth of this research field is apparently attributed to the rapid development of micro/nanofabrication techniques. In this review, we summarize recent activities and achievements of nanofabrication for nanofluidic devices, especially those reported in the past four years. Three major nanofabrication strategies, including nanolithography, microelectromechanical system based techniques, and methods using various nanomaterials, are introduced with specific fabrication approaches. Other unconventional fabrication attempts which utilize special polymer properties, various microfabrication failure mechanisms, and macro/microscale machining techniques are also presented. Based on these fabrication techniques, an inclusive guideline for materials and processes selection in the preparation of nanofluidic devices is provided. Finally, technical challenges along with possible opportunities in the present nanofabrication for nanofluidic study are discussed.
Red blood cells (RBCs) possess a unique capacity for undergoing cellular deformation to navigate across various human microcirculation vessels, enabling them to pass through capillaries that are smaller than their diameter and to carry out their role as gas carriers between blood and tissues. Since there is growing evidence that red blood cell deformability is impaired in some pathological conditions, measurement of RBC deformability has been the focus of numerous studies over the past decades. Nevertheless, reports on healthy and pathological RBCs are currently limited and, in many cases, are not expressed in terms of well-defined cell membrane parameters such as elasticity and viscosity. Hence, it is often difficult to integrate these results into the basic understanding of RBC behaviour, as well as into clinical applications. The aim of this review is to summarize currently available reports on RBC deformability and to highlight its association with various human diseases such as hereditary disorders (e. g., spherocytosis, elliptocytosis, ovalocytosis, and stomatocytosis), metabolic disorders (e. g., diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, obesity), adenosine triphosphate-induced membrane changes, oxidative stress, and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria. Microfluidic techniques have been identified as the key to develop state-of-the-art dynamic experimental models for elucidating the significance of RBC membrane alterations in pathological conditions and the role that such alterations play in the microvasculature flow dynamics. (C) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are prognostic markers for the recurrence of cancer and may carry molecular information relevant to cancer diagnosis. Dielectrophoresis (DEP) has been proposed as a molecular marker-independent approach for isolating CTCs from blood and has been shown to be broadly applicable to different types of cancers. However, existing batch-mode microfluidic DEP methods have been unable to process 10 ml clinical blood specimens rapidly enough. To achieve the required processing rates of 106 nucleated cells/min, we describe a continuous flow microfluidic processing chamber into which the peripheral blood mononuclear cell fraction of a clinical specimen is slowly injected, deionized by diffusion, and then subjected to a balance of DEP, sedimentation and hydrodynamic lift forces. These forces cause tumor cells to be transported close to the floor of the chamber, while blood cells are carried about three cell diameters above them. The tumor cells are isolated by skimming them from the bottom of the chamber while the blood cells flow to waste. The principles, design, and modeling of the continuous-flow system are presented. To illustrate operation of the technology, we demonstrate the isolation of circulating colon tumor cells from clinical specimens and verify the tumor origin of these cells by molecular analysis.
We demonstrate that surface acoustic waves (SAWs), nanometer amplitude Rayleigh waves driven at megahertz order frequencies propagating on the surface of a piezoelectric substrate, offer a powerful method for driving a host of extremely fast microfluidic actuation and micro/bioparticle manipulation schemes. We show that sessile drops can be translated rapidly on planar substrates or fluid can be pumped through microchannels at 1 – 10 cm ∕ s velocities, which are typically one to two orders quicker than that afforded by current microfluidic technologies. Through symmetry-breaking, azimuthal recirculation can be induced within the drop to drive strong inertial microcentrifugation for micromixing and particle concentration or separation. Similar micromixing strategies can be induced in the same microchannel in which fluid is pumped with the SAW by merely changing the SAW frequency to rapidly switch the uniform through-flow into a chaotic oscillatory flow by exploiting superpositioning of the irradiated sound waves from the sidewalls of the microchannel. If the flow is sufficiently quiescent, the nodes of the transverse standing wave that arises across the microchannel also allow for particle aggregation, and hence, sorting on nodal lines. In addition, the SAW also facilitates other microfluidic capabilities. For example, capillary waves excited at the free surface of a sessile drop by the SAW underneath it can be exploited for micro/nanoparticle collection and sorting at nodal points or lines at low powers. At higher powers, the large accelerations off the substrate surface as the SAW propagates across drives rapid destabilization of the drop free surface giving rise to inertial liquid jets that persist over 1 – 2 cm in length or atomization of the entire drop to produce 1 – 10 μ m monodispersed aerosol droplets, which can be exploited for ink-jet printing, mass spectrometry interfacing, or pulmonary drug delivery. The atomization of polymer/protein solutions can also be used for the rapid synthesis of 150 – 200 nm polymer/protein particles or biodegradable polymeric shells in which proteins, peptides, and other therapeutic molecules are encapsulated within for controlled release drug delivery. The atomization of thin films behind a translating drop containing polymer solutions also gives rise to long-range spatial ordering of regular polymer spots whose size and spacing are dependent on the SAW frequency, thus offering a simple and powerful method for polymer patterning without requiring surface treatment or physical/chemical templating.
The capability of 3D printing technologies for direct production of complex 3D structures in a single step has recently attracted an ever increasing interest within the field of microfluidics. Recently, ultrafast lasers have also allowed developing new methods for production of internal microfluidic channels within the bulk of glass and polymer materials by direct internal 3D laser writing. This review critically summarizes the latest advances in the production of microfluidic 3D structures by using 3D printing technologies and direct internal 3D laser writing fabrication methods. Current applications of these rapid prototyped microfluidic platforms in biology will be also discussed. These include imaging of cells and living organisms, electrochemical detection of viruses and neurotransmitters, and studies in drug transport and induced-release of adenosine triphosphate from erythrocytes. (C) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.
Electrospinning is a process that creates nanofibers through an electrically charged jet of polymer solution or melt. This technique is applicable to virtually every soluble or fusible polymer and is capable of spinning fibers in a variety of shapes and sizes with a wide range of properties to be used in a broad range of biomedical and industrial applications. Electrospinning requires a very simple and economical setup but is an intricate process that depends on several molecular, processing, and technical parameters. This article reviews information on the three stages of the electrospinning process (i.e., jet initiation, elongation, and solidification). Some of the unique properties of the electrospun structures have also been highlighted. This article also illustrates some recent innovations to modify the electrospinning process. The use of electrospun scaffolds in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine has also been described.
Rapid prototyping of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is often used to build microfluidic devices. However, the inherent hydrophobic nature of the material limits the use of PDMS in many applications. While different methods have been developed to transform the hydrophobic PDMS surface to a hydrophilic surface, the actual implementation proved to be time consuming due to differences in equipment and the need for characterization. This paper reports a simple and easy protocol combining a second extended oxygen plasma treatments and proper storage to produce usable hydrophilic PDMS devices. The results show that at a plasma power of 70 W, an extended treatment of over 5 min would allow the PDMS surface to remain hydrophilic for more than 6 h. Storing the treated PDMS devices in de-ionized water would allow them to maintain their hydrophilicity for weeks. Atomic force microscopy analysis shows that a longer oxygen plasma time produces a smoother surface.
This paper describes the main protocols that are used for fabricating microfluidic devices from glass and silicon. Methods for micropatterning glass and silicon are surveyed, and their limitations are discussed. Bonding methods that can be used for joining these materials are summarized and key process parameters are indicated. The paper also outlines techniques for forming electrical connections between microfluidic devices and external circuits. A framework is proposed for the synthesis of a complete glass/silicon device fabrication flow.
Blood cell sorting is critical to sample preparation for both clinical diagnosis and therapeutic research. The spiral inertial microfluidic devices can achieve label-free, continuous separation of cell mixtures with high throughput and efficiency. The devices utilize hydrodynamic forces acting on cells within laminar flow, coupled with rotational Dean drag due to curvilinear microchannel geometry. Here, we report on optimized Archimedean spiral devices to achieve cell separation in less than 8 cm of downstream focusing length. These improved devices are small in size (<1 in.2), exhibit high separation efficiency (∼95%), and high throughput with rates up to 1 × 106 cells per minute. These device concepts offer a path towards possible development of a lab-on-chip for point-of-care blood analysis with high efficiency, low cost, and reduced analysis time.
This work reports a microfluidic device with deterministic lateral displacement (DLD) arrays allowing rapid and label-free cancer cell separation and enrichment from diluted peripheral whole blood, by exploiting the size-dependent hydrodynamic forces. Experiment data and theoretical simulation are presented to evaluate the isolation efficiency of various types of cancer cells in the microfluidic DLD structure. We also demonstrated the use of both circular and triangular post arrays for cancer cell separation in cell solution and blood samples. The device was able to achieve high cancer cell isolation efficiency and enrichment factor with our optimized design. Therefore, this platform with DLD structure shows great potential on fundamental and clinical studies of circulating tumor cells.
In this work, we propose a rapid and continuous rare tumor cell separation based on hydrodynamic effects in a label-free manner. The competition between the inertial lift force and Dean drag force inside a double spiral microchannel results in the size-based cell separation of large tumor cells and small blood cells. The mechanism of hydrodynamic separation in curved microchannel was investigated by a numerical model. Experiments with binary mixture of 5- and 15-μm-diameter polystyrene particles using the double spiral channel showed a separation purity of more than 95% at the flow rate above 30 ml/h. High throughput (2.5 × 108 cells/min) and efficient cell separation (more than 90%) of spiked HeLa cells and 20 × diluted blood cells was also achieved by the double spiral channel.
Single cell trapping increasingly serves as a key manipulation technique in single cell analysis for many cutting-edge cell studies. Due to their inherent advantages, microfluidic devices have been widely used to enable single cell immobilization. To further improve the single cell trapping efficiency, this paper reports on a passive hydrodynamic microfluidic device based on the "least flow resistance path" principle with geometry optimized in line with corresponding cell types. Different from serpentine structure, the core trapping structure of the micro-device consists of a series of concatenated T and inverse T junction pairs which function as bypassing channels and trapping constrictions. This new device enhances the single cell trapping efficiency from three aspects: (1) there is no need to deploy very long or complicated channels to adjust flow resistance, thus saving space for each trapping unit; (2) the trapping works in a "deterministic" manner, thus saving a great deal of cell samples; and (3) the compact configuration allows shorter flowing path of cells in multiple channels, thus increasing the speed and throughput of cell trapping. The mathematical model of the design was proposed and optimization of associated key geometric parameters was conducted based on computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation. As a proof demonstration, two types of PDMS microfluidic devices were fabricated to trap HeLa and HEK-293T cells with relatively significant differences in cell sizes. Experimental results showed 100% cell trapping and 90% single cell trapping over 4 x 100 trap sites for these two cell types, respectively. The space saving is estimated to be 2-fold and the cell trapping speed enhancement to be 3-fold compared to previously reported devices. This device can be used for trapping various types of cells and expanded to trap cells in the order of tens of thousands on 1-cm(2) scale area, as a promising tool to pattern large-scale single cells on specific substrates and facilitate on-chip cellular assay at the single cell level. (C) 2015 AIP Publishing LLC.
This paper reviews our work on the application of ultrafast pulsed laser micro/nanoprocessing for the three-dimensional (3D) biomimetic modification of materials surfaces. It is shown that the artificial surfaces obtained by femtosecond-laser processing of Si in reactive gas atmosphere exhibit roughness at both micro- and nanoscales that mimics the hierarchical morphology of natural surfaces. Along with the spatial control of the topology, defining surface chemistry provides materials exhibiting notable wetting characteristics which are potentially useful for open microfluidic applications. Depending on the functional coating deposited on the laser patterned 3D structures, we can achieve artificial surfaces that are (a) of extremely low surface energy, thus water-repellent and self-cleaned, and (b) responsive, i.e., showing the ability to change their surface energy in response to different external stimuli such as light, electric field, and p H . Moreover, the behavior of different kinds of cells cultured on laser engineered substrates of various wettabilities was investigated. Experiments showed that it is possible to preferentially tune cell adhesion and growth through choosing proper combinations of surface topography and chemistry. It is concluded that the laser textured 3D micro/nano-Si surfaces with controllability of roughness ratio and surface chemistry can advantageously serve as a novel means to elucidate the 3D cell-scaffold interactions for tissue engineering applications.