Indexed on: 27 Mar '15Published on: 27 Mar '15Published in: ELECTROPHORESIS
Microfluidics is the combination of micro/nano fabrication techniques with fluid flow at microscale to pursue powerful techniques in controlling and manipulating chemical and biological processes. Sorting and separation of bio-particles are highly considered in diagnostics and biological analyses. Dielectrophoresis (DEP) has offered unique advantages for microfluidic devices. In DEP devices, asymmetric pair of planar electrodes could be employed to generate non-uniform electric fields. In DEP applications, facing 3D sidewall electrodes is considered to be one of the key solutions to increase device throughput due to the generated homogeneous electric fields along the height of microchannels. Despite the advantages, fabrication of 3D vertical electrodes requires a considerable challenge. In this study, two alternative fabrication techniques have been proposed for the fabrication of a microfluidic device with 3D sidewall electrodes. In the first method, both the mold and the electrodes are fabricated using high precision machining. In the second method, the mold with tilted sidewalls is fabricated using high precision machining and the electrodes are deposited on the sidewall using sputtering together with a shadow mask fabricated by electric discharge machining. Both fabrication processes are assessed as highly repeatable and robust. Moreover, the two methods are found to be complementary with respect to the channel height. Only the manipulation of particles with negative-DEP is demonstrated in the experiments, and the throughput values up to 105 particles / min is reached in a continuous flow. The experimental results are compared with the simulation results and the limitations on the fabrication techniques are also discussed.