We present an inexpensive, portable and integrated microfluidic instrument that is optimized to perform genetic amplification and analysis on a single sample. Biochemical reactions and analytical separations for genetic analysis are performed within tri-layered glass–PDMS microchips. The microchip itself consists of integrated pneumatically-actuated valves and pumps for fluid handling, a thin-film resistive element that acts simultaneously as a heater and a temperature sensor, and channels for capillary electrophoresis (CE). The platform is comprised of high voltage circuitry, an optical assembly consisting of a laser diode and a charged coupled device (CCD) camera, circuitry for thermal control, and mini-pumps to generate vacuum/pressure to operate the on-chip diaphragm-based pumps and valves. Using this microchip and instrument, we demonstrate an integration of reverse transcription (RT), polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and capillary electrophoresis (CE). The novelty of this system lies in the cost-effective integration of microfluidics, optics, and electronics to realize a fully portable and inexpensive system (on the order of $1000 in component costs) for performing both genetic amplification and analysis – the basis of many medical diagnostics. We believe that this combination of portability, cost-effectiveness and performance will enable more accessible healthcare.
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