Microcontact Printing-Based Fabrication of Digital Microfluidic Devices


Digital microfluidics is a fluid manipulation technique in which discrete droplets are actuated on patterned arrays of electrodes. Although there is great enthusiasm for the application of this technique to chemical and biological assays, development has been hindered by the requirement of clean room fabrication facilities. Here, we present a new fabrication scheme, relying on microcontact printing (μCP), an inexpensive technique that does not require clean room facilities. In μCP, an elastomeric poly(dimethylsiloxane) stamp is used to deposit patterns of self-assembled monolayers onto a substrate. We report three different μCP-based fabrication techniques:  (1) selective etching of gold-on-glass substrates; (2) direct printing of a suspension of palladium colloids; and (3) indirect trapping of gold colloids from suspension. In method 1, etched gold electrodes are used for droplet actuation; in methods 2 and 3, colloid patterns are used to seed electroless deposition of copper. We demonstrate, for the first time, that digital microfluidic devices can be formed by μCP and are capable of the full range of digital microfluidics operations:  dispensing, merging, motion, and splitting. Devices formed by the most robust of the new techniques were comparable in performance to devices formed by conventional methods, at a fraction of the fabrication time. These new techniques for digital microfluidics device fabrication have the potential to facilitate expansion of this technology to any research group, even those without access to conventional microfabrication tools and facilities.


Microcontact Printing-Based Fabrication of Digital Microfluidic DevicesMicrocontact Printing-Based Fabrication of Digital Microfluidic Devices