A unique microfluidic device fabrication system that is useful in any application where complex microchannel functionalities are needed, including high throughput cell separations, ultra-fast therapeutics (i.e. kidney dialysis), and ultra-fast analysis of cell populations.
Traditional techniques for microfluidic device fabrication are only capable of fabricating simple cross-sectional geometries, such as rectangles and triangles. In addition, traditional techniques are not capable of embedding additional materials, such as diaelectrophoresis (DEP) devices, anywhere within the microfluidic device. Because greater variety of microfluidic flows can be created with complex microchannel cross-sectional geometry, and because strategic placement of electrodes anywhere around the microchannel would be invaluable to a variety of applications, a newer and more flexible method for microfluidics fabrication would greatly advance microfluidics research.
This invention involves the adaptation of a multimaterial fiber technology to activate microfluidics, enabling the creation of microchannels with complex geometries and materials that are not limited by standard processes. Because fabrication is based on a thermal drawing process where a single draw can yield hundreds of meters of fibers, it is highly scalable and cost-effective. Using this fiber technology, secondary materials such as DEP devices can be placed anywhere in the fiber. The fibers themselves are also very flexible, which means that they allow microchannels to develop a secondary curvature. In addition, interfacing connectors, called fiber-to-world (FTW) connectors, can be adjoined to the fiber channels to cleanly split fluid streams. Finally, unlike traditional microfabrication technologies, microfluidic fibers do not need to be realigned post-fabrication, and are fully integrated and ready to be used as soon as they are made.
· Creation of complex geometries in microfluidic channel cross-sections
· Highly scalable and cost-effective thermal drawing process
· Flexible fibers allow for microchannels to develop a secondary curvature
· Ability to FTW connectors to split fluid streams
· Fully integrated fabrication process requires no post-fabrication alignment