Open Access Nano Idea

Nanoscale surface modifications to control capillary flow characteristics in PMMA microfluidic devices

Subhadeep Mukhopadhyay, Susanta S Roy*, Raechelle A D'Sa, Ashish Mathur, Richard J Holmes and James A McLaughlin*

Author Affiliations

Nanotechnology and Integrated Bio-Engineering Center, School of Engineering, University of Ulster, Jordanstown, Co Antrim, BT37 0QB, Northern Ireland, UK

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:411  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-411

Published: 3 June 2011

Abstract

Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) microfluidic devices have been fabricated using a hot embossing technique to incorporate micro-pillar features on the bottom wall of the device which when combined with either a plasma treatment or the coating of a diamond-like carbon (DLC) film presents a range of surface modification profiles. Experimental results presented in detail the surface modifications in the form of distinct changes in the static water contact angle across a range from 44.3 to 81.2 when compared to pristine PMMA surfaces. Additionally, capillary flow of water (dyed to aid visualization) through the microfluidic devices was recorded and analyzed to provide comparison data between filling time of a microfluidic chamber and surface modification characteristics, including the effects of surface energy and surface roughness on the microfluidic flow. We have experimentally demonstrated that fluid flow and thus filling time for the microfluidic device was significantly faster for the device with surface modifications that resulted in a lower static contact angle, and also that the incorporation of micro-pillars into a fluidic device increases the filling time when compared to comparative devices.