Fiber-Based Microfluidic Devices

Technology #19005

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Schematic of a complete cell separation fiber device with fiber-to-world JTW connection. aX Two iypes of particles enter the device at the fiber inlet in a random distribution tb) Particles are spatially separated within the fiber channels by trans\ ersc forces. In this ease. green particles are partitioned to the outer two thirds of the channel, while red particles are guided to the center third of the channel (C) Laminar flow is maintained at the fiber-PFW interface, allowing Linlike particles to he physically separated by a stream-splitting trifurcation forkDEP fiber design and characterization. (a) Schematic of the cross-sectional design of the DEP fiber. The cladding is polvcarhonate (grey) while the electrodes are conductive polyethylene (black) and eutectic BiSn alloy (while). (b) Numerically computed electric field stiength within the fiber channel under an applied voltage of 25V. (c) Vector plot of the DEP force direction along the fiber cross-section. The electric field gradient will guide nDEP particles (green) to the outer two-thirds of the channel (separated by pink lines) and pDPP particles (red) to the center third of the channel. (d) Cross-sectional image of the DEP fiber. (e) Long exposure fluorescence streaks LEF of the particle behavior of BAIF3 (red) and polystyrene heads (green) were processed into intensHy profiles to show particle distributions within the fiber channel under different applied voltagesDEP fiber cell separation device design and characterization (a) Image of a fully assembled DEP Fiber ccli separation dc ice. (b) Image of a 3D-printed FfW showing the thrce sections of the chip: I) the self-aligning mating port. 2) the stream splitting trifurcation fork, and 3) the parallel channel section (c Microscope image of the self-aligning mating port and the flher-PFW interface with the interior channels highlighted (light blue lines) (di Background normalized LEE streaks of polystyrene beads (green) and BA/F3 cells red) (lowing through the trilurcation fork under a 15V applied voltage. (e) Intensity profiles within the parallel channel Jegion showtng the polystyrene bead (green) and BA/F3 cell (red) distributions in each outlet channel for a range of applied voltages.
Professor Yoel Fink
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
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Professor Joel Voldman
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
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Hao-Wei Su
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Rodger Yuan
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Jaemyon Lee
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Managed By
Jon Gilbert
MIT Technology Licensing Officer
Patent Protection

Fiber-Based Microfluidic Devices

Provisional Patent Application Filed


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