Rapid large area fabrication of multiscale through-hole membranes†
There are many proposed mechanisms by which single cells can be trapped; among them is the through-hole membrane for the characterization of individual microorganisms. Due to the small scale of the fabricated pores, the construction of through-hole membranes on a large scale and with relatively large areas faces many difficulties. This paper describes novel fabrication methods for a large-area, freestanding micro/nano through-hole membrane constructed from versatile membrane materials using through-hole membranes on a microfluidic chip (THMMC). This process can rapidly (<20 min) fabricate membranes with high fidelity multiscale hole size without residual layers. The through-hole site was easily customizable from the micro to the nanoscale, with a low or high aspect ratio giving rise to reliable membranes. Also, the rigidity and biocompatibility of the through-hole membrane are easily tunable by simple injection of versatile membrane materials to obtain a large area (up to 3600 mm2). Membranes produced in this manner were then applied as a proof of concept for the isolation, cultivation, and quantification of individual micro-algal cells for selection with respect to the growth rate, while controlling the quorum sensing mediated metabolic and proliferative changes.