Indexed on: 12 May '06Published on: 12 May '06Published in: ELECTROPHORESIS
A novel method of photoresist-free micropatterning coupled with electroless gold plating is described for the fabrication of an integrated gold electrode for electrochemical detection (ED) on a polycarbonate (PC) electrophoresis microchip. The microelectrode layout was photochemically patterned onto the surface of a PC plate by selective exposure of the surface coated without photoresist to 254 nm UV light through a chromium/quartz photomask. Thus, the PC plate was selectively sensitized by formation of reactive chemical moieties in the exposed areas. After a series of wet chemistry reactions, the UV-exposed area was activated with a layer of gold nanoparticles that served as a seed to catalyze the electroless plating. The gold microelectrode was then selectively plated onto the activated area by using an electroless gold plating bath. Nonselective gold deposition on the unwanted areas was eliminated by sonication of the activated PC plate in a KSCN solution before electroless plating, and the adhesion of the plated electrodes to the PC surface was strengthened with thermal annealing. Compared with the previously reported electroless plating technique for fabrication of microelectrodes on a microchip, the present method avoided the use of a membrane stencil with an electrode pattern to restrict the area to be wet-chemically sensitized. The CE with integrated ED (CE-ED) microchip was assembled by thermal bonding an electrode-plated PC cover plate to a microchannel-embossed PC substrate. The novel method allows one to fabricate low-cost, electrode-integrated, complete PC CE-ED chips with no need of a clean room. The fabricated CE-ED microchip was demonstrated for separation and detection of model analytes, including dopamine (DA) and catechol (CA). Detection limits of 0.65 and 1.03 microM were achieved for DA and CA, respectively, and theoretical plate number of 1.4 x 10(4) was obtained for DA. The plated gold electrode can be used for about 4 h, bearing usually more than 100 runs before complete failure.