The invention discloses an acrylic-tape microfluidic platform, whose fabrication and sealing do not need any access to clean rooms, photolithography, or plasma treatment, and can even be done in an outdoor environment. The sealing in the acrylic-tape devices is realized by applying functional tapes on top of the fluidic channels, which allows for the following two benefits. First, the reversible sealing allows multiple functions to be realized on the same device, and functions can be switched or reconfigured by peeling off the original tape and applying a different functional tape. Second, the channel surfaces can be fully exposed by removing the sealing tape, allowing for sterilization or surface treatments. Since applying the tape does not need heating or plasma treatment, both of which are required by PDMS microfluidics, the chemical or biological surface treatments remain intact after the channels are sealed in acrylic-tape microfluidics.
Medical testing traditionally occurs in clinical offices, which makes the testing expensive, time-consuming, and limited by the availability of medical facilities. There is a great need for portable, economic, and straightforward methods for medical testing. Microfluidics has the potential to allow the medical diagnosis testing to be carried out on a small chip at locations outside clinical offices. Microfluidics involves small (microscale) channels and integrated sensing elements, which provide the same effective medical testing with much less sample volume and faster results turnout. However, existing platforms and techniques of microfluidics, including PDMS and paper microfluidics suffer from either complex fabrication process or difficulties of surface functionalization.
The invention can solve the above needs by an acrylic-tape hybrid microfluidic platform. The acrylic-tape devices can be mass produced with readily accessible tools and be readily functionalized for various medical testing. The acrylic-tape microfluidics may be used anywhere for applications such as point-of-care medical diagnosis and in-the-field chemical testing.
The advantages of the acrylic-tape microfluidics include straightforward and cost-effective fabrication process, quick surface treatments of the devices, and reconfigurable functions on a single device. Particularly, the low cost of materials and fabrication methods are suitable for industrial mass productions and commercialization. In addition, multiple functions can be realized by the same device, with simple reconfiguration steps that can be carried out in the field.
There are two main competitors, the PDMS microfluidic platforms and the existing PMMA(Acrylic) only microfluidic platforms. For the widely used Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) based microfluidic devices, its fabrication process requires clean room facilities and relatively expensive materials, which make it difficult for industrial mass production. Furthermore, the plasma treatment during the bonding process can damage the functional coating on the PDMS channel. Reconfiguration of the device functions is difficult, if not impossible. Similarly, the existing PMMA(acrylic) microfluidic devices are irreversibly sealed and cannot be reconfigured for different functions after fabrication.