The surface properties of microfluidic devices play an important role in their flow behavior. We report here on an effective control of the surface chemistry and performance of polymeric microchips through a bulk modification route during the fabrication process. The new protocol is based on modification of the bulk microchip material by tailored copolymerization of monomers during atmospheric-pressure molding. A judicious addition of a modifier to the primary monomer solution thus imparts attractive properties to the plastic microchip substrate, including significant enhancement and/or modulation of the EOF (with flow velocities comparable to those of glass), a strong pH sensitivity and high stability. Carboxy, sulfo, and amino moieties have thus been introduced (through the incorporation of methylacrylic acid, 2-sulfoethyl-methacrylate and 2-aminoethyl-methacrylate monomers, respectively). A strong increase in the electroosmotic pumping compared to the native poly(methylmethacrylate)
(PMMA) microchip (ca. electroosmotic mobility increases from 2.12 to 4.30 × 10−4 cm2 V−1 s−1) is observed using a 6% methylacrylate (MAA) modified PMMA microchip. A 3% aminoethyl modified PMMA microchip exhibits a reversal of the electroosmotic mobility (for example, −5.6 × 10−4 cm2 V−1 s−1 at pH 3.0). The effects of the modifier loading and the pH on the EOF have been investigated for the MAA-modified PMMA chips. The bulk-modified devices exhibit reproducible and stable EOF behavior. The one step fabrication/modification protocol should further facilitate the widespread production of high-performance plastic microchip devices.
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