Maskless, rapid manufacturing of glass microfluidic devices using a picosecond pulsed laser.

Research paper by Krystian L KL Wlodarczyk, Duncan P DP Hand, M Mercedes MM Maroto-Valer

Indexed on: 30 Dec '19Published on: 29 Dec '19Published in: Scientific Reports


Conventional manufacturing of glass microfluidic devices is a complex, multi-step process that involves a combination of different fabrication techniques, typically photolithography, chemical/dry etching and thermal/anodic bonding. As a result, the process is time-consuming and expensive, in particular when developing microfluidic prototypes or even manufacturing them in low quantity. This report describes a fabrication technique in which a picosecond pulsed laser system is the only tool required to manufacture a microfluidic device from transparent glass substrates. The laser system is used for the generation of microfluidic patterns directly on glass, the drilling of inlet/outlet ports in glass covers, and the bonding of two glass plates together in order to enclose the laser-generated patterns from the top. This method enables the manufacturing of a fully-functional microfluidic device in a few hours, without using any projection masks, dangerous chemicals, and additional expensive tools, e.g., a mask writer or bonding machine. The method allows the fabrication of various types of microfluidic devices, e.g., Hele-Shaw cells and microfluidics comprising complex patterns resembling up-scaled cross-sections of realistic rock samples, suitable for the investigation of CO storage, water remediation and hydrocarbon recovery processes. The method also provides a route for embedding small 3D objects inside these devices.