Rapid prototyping of injection moulded microfluidics with in-built sensing

Convery, Neil (2024) Rapid prototyping of injection moulded microfluidics with in-built sensing. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Microfluidics have been utilised over the past few decades to realise a wide range of academic research. These fluidic devices carry several advantages over classical analytical techniques such as lower reagent consumption, more rapid reactions, and increased sensitivity. However, while many of the currently used fabrication techniques allow for the rapid prototyping of microfluidic structures, these methods, and the design rules associated with them, do not translate well into mass-producible devices. For example, devices can be manufactured rapidly using soft lithography methods however, this requires access to specialist clean-room facilities and the through-put is limited to only a handful of devices per day.

To address this, the work in this thesis focuses on developing a manufacturing platform that allows for the rapid prototyping of microfluidic devices using injection moulding. This process not only allows for the fabrication of hundreds of devices per day, but also allows for the use of materials such as polystyrene which have material properties that are better suited for applications such as cell culture. To achieve this, 3D printed inlays were evaluated for use in an industrial injection moulding machine and it was found that channels as small as 100 x 200 μm could be reliably manufactured.

To complement this manufacturing platform, an oxygen sensor was also demonstrated that could be rapidly incorporated into the microfluidic devices without the requirement of clean-room facilities. This sensor could detect oxygen with high enough spatial and temporal resolution for most cell culture applications. Alongside this, steps towards making a device for measuring cell barrier integrity were also made. This work showed how functional elements such as electrodes and membranes could be rapidly incorporated into the injection moulded devices. However, a full demonstration of working trans-epithelial/endothelial-resistance measurements was not achieved.

Overall this work demonstrates a novel manufacturing platform that should enable a more seamless transition from prototype, to mass-produced microfluidic devices in the future.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering
Funder's Name: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Supervisor's Name: Gadegaard, Professor Nikolaj
Date of Award: 2024
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2024-84189
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2024 08:58
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2024 09:02
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.84189
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/84189
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