In Part I of a two-part series, we describe a simple and inexpensive approach to fabricate polystyrene devices that is based upon melting polystyrene (from either a Petri dish or powder form) against PDMS molds or around electrode materials. The ability to incorporate microchannels in polystyrene and integrate the resulting device with standard laboratory equipment such as an optical plate reader for analyte readout and pipets for fluid propulsion is first described. A simple approach for sample and reagent delivery to the device channels using a standard, multi-channel micropipette and a PDMS-based injection block is detailed. Integration of the microfluidic device with these off-chip functions (sample delivery and readout) enables high-throughput screens and analyses. An approach to fabricate polystyrene-based devices with embedded electrodes is also demonstrated, thereby enabling the integration of microchip electrophoresis with electrochemical detection through the use of a palladium electrode (for a decoupler) and carbon-fiber bundle (for detection). The device was sealed against a PDMS-based microchannel and used for the electrophoretic separation and amperometric detection of dopamine, epinephrine, catechol, and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid. Finally, these devices were compared against PDMS-based microchips in terms of their optical transparency and absorption of an anti-platelet drug, clopidogrel. Part I of this series lays the foundation for Part II, where these devices were utilized for various on-chip cellular analysis.
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