The complexity of current microfluidic systems and the need for costume-designed fabrication, which leads to costly manufacturing, are obstacles in microfluidic technology. These complications have kept this technology from becoming commercially available like semiconductor technology.
This dissertation describes a novel technology based that is based on lamination, which allows for the production of highly integrated 3D devices suitable for performing a wide variety of microfluidic assays. This approach uses a suite of microfluidic coupons ("microfloupons") or in short "μFloupons" that are intended to be stacked as needed to produce an assay of interest. Microfloupons may be manufactured in paper, plastic, gels, PCBs, or other materials, in advance, by different manufacturers, and then assembled by the assay designer as needed. To demonstrate this approach, this dissertation explains different practical applications of this technology. First, we designed, assembled, and characterized a microfloupon device that performs sodium-dodecyl-sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) on a small sample of protein. This device allows for the manipulation and transport of small amounts of protein sample, tight injection into a thin polyacrylamide gel, electrophoretic separation of the proteins into bands, and subsequent removal of the gel from the device for imaging and further analysis. The microfloupons are rugged enough to handle, and can be easily aligned and laminated, allowing for a variety of different assays to be designed and configured by selecting appropriate microfloupons. In the second application, a microvalve system is described, which is actuated by electromagnetic force and is manufactured in paper-polymer structures. The microvalve has latching capability, which makes it suitable for low-power applications.
This approach provides a convenient way to perform assays that have multiple steps, relieving the need to design highly sophisticated devices that incorporate all functions in a single unit, while still achieving the benefits of small sample size, automation, and high speed operation.