Custom 3-D printer, custom resin used to achieve smaller scale
Researchers at BYU are the first to 3D-print a viable microfluidic device small enough to be effective at a scale much less than 100 micrometers. Microfluidic devices are tiny chips that can sort out disease biomarkers, cells and other small structures in samples like blood by using microscopic channels incorporated into the devices.
The accomplishment, which is a major breakthrough toward mass-producing the medical diagnostic devices cheaply, is detailed online in academic journal Lab on a Chip. Researchers Greg Nordin, a BYU electrical engineering professor, and Adam Woolley, a BYU chemistry professor, say the key to their innovation was two-fold:
"Others have 3D-printed fluidic channels, but they haven't been able to make them small enough for microfluidics," Nordin said. "So we decided to make our own 3D printer and research a resin that could do it."
Their work has produced labs on a chip with flow channel cross sections as small as 18 micrometers by 20 micrometers. Previous efforts to 3D-print microfluidic devices have failed to achieve success smaller than 100 micrometers. The researchers' 3D printer uses a 385 nm LED, which dramatically increases the available selection of UV absorbers for resin formulation compared to 3D printers with 405 nm LEDs.
Nordin said the advantages of 3D printing for microfluidic device fabrication are already well-known and that their method, digital light processing stereolithography (DLP-SLA), is an especially promising lower-cost approach. DLP-SLA uses a micromirror array chip, like those in most consumer projectors, to dynamically create the optical pattern for each layer during layer-by-layer printing of a device.
Researchers say they are laying the foundation for 3D printing to challenge the dominance of conventional methods -- soft lithography and hot embossing -- of microfluidic prototyping and development.
"We're deliberately trying to start a revolution in how microfluidic devices are fabricated," Nordin said.
Woolley's research interests in microfluidics focus on using lab-on-a-chip devices to detect biomarkers related to preterm birth. To that end, he and Nordin just submitted a proposal to the National Institutes of Health to develop the approach in this paper for preterm birth prediction.
Woolley said the paper represents an improvement of a factor of 100 on the size of features that are now possible in 3D printed microfluidics. It also cuts down on time and hassle: the BYU-authored approach can create a device in 30 minutes' time and doesn't require the use of clean rooms -- a special lab environment free from dust and other contaminants.
"It's not just a little step; it's a huge leap from one size regime to a previously inaccessible size regime for 3D printing," Woolley said. "It opens up a lot of doors for making microfluidics more easily and inexpensively."
Hua Gong is the BYU Ph.D. student who spearheaded the experimental work that made possible the 3D printing advances. Bryce Bickham, a BYU undergraduate, also played a key role in the research. Bryce, who just finished his freshman year, took on the challenge of digging through a 20-volume set of books detailing the spectra of possible resin materials. Nordin said Bryce found the perfect material thanks to his weeks-long effort in the BYU library. Hua then used this material to make a successful 3D printer resin.
Todd Hollingshead | EurekAlert!
Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers
20.07.2018 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore
Study suggests buried Internet infrastructure at risk as sea levels rise
18.07.2018 | University of Wisconsin-Madison
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences