One-step packing of anti-voltage photonic crystals into microfluidic channels for ultra-fast separation of amino acids and peptides†
Packing of stable and crack-free photonic crystals (PCs) into micro channels is a prerequisite for ideal separation, but often takes several days and many steps, including assembly and immobilization. This work was dedicated to finding a fast, one-step solution. Simply by heating and blowing away the vapor, the packing of silica PCs into micro channels by classic evaporation-induced assembly was greatly accelerated and could unite the immobilization into one step. An apt method was thus established, which was able to pack 2 cm PCs into microfluidic channels in 15 min, saving a lot of time. The packed PCs showed no evident cracks along the borders of their continuous domain, therefore they are capable of withstanding an anti-electrical field at 2000 V cm−1 for 5 h and storage in water for 2 months. This enables ultra-fast separation of amino acids along a 2.5 mm PC in 4 s, and peptides along a 10 mm PC in 12 s. The separation was highly efficient and reproducible, with a 300 nm plate height and 0.24%–0.35% relative standard deviation of migration time. This one-step approach is extendable to other gelling particles, and the resulted stable, crack-free PCs would have large potential in ultra-fast separation of other analytes.