Engineering fluidic delays in paper-based devices using laser direct-writing
We report the use of a new laser-based direct-write technique that allows programmable and timed fluid delivery in channels within a paper substrate which enables implementation of multi-step analytical assays. The technique is based on laser-induced photo-polymerisation, and through adjustment of the laser writing parameters such as the laser power and scan speed we can control the depth and/or the porosity of hydrophobic barriers which, when fabricated in the fluid path, produce controllable fluid delay. We have patterned these flow delaying barriers at pre-defined locations in the fluidic channels using either a continuous wave laser at 405 nm, or a pulsed laser operating at 266 nm. Using this delay patterning protocol we generated flow delays spanning from a few minutes to over half an hour. Since the channels and flow delay barriers can be written via a common laser-writing process, this is a distinct improvement over other methods that require specialist operating environments, or custom-designed equipment. This technique can therefore be used for rapid fabrication of paper-based microfluidic devices that can perform single or multistep analytical assays.