Enhanced microchip electrophoresis separations combined with electrochemical detection utilizing a capillary embedded in polystyrene
The ability to use microchip-based electrophoresis for fast, high-throughput separations provides researchers with a tool for close-to real time analysis of biological systems. While PDMS-based electrophoresis devices are popular, the separation efficiency is often an issue due to the hydrophobic nature of PDMS. In this study, a hybrid microfluidic capillary device was fabricated to utilize the positive features of PDMS along with the electrophoretic performance of fused silica. A capillary loop was embedded in a polystyrene base that can be coupled with PDMS microchannels at minimal dead volume interconnects. A method for cleaning out the capillaries after a wet-polishing step was devised through the use of a 3D printed syringe attachment. By comparing the separation efficiency of fluorescein and CBI-glycine with both a PDMS-based serpentine device and the embedded capillary loop device, it was shown that the embedded capillary loop device maintained higher theoretical plates for both analytes. A Pd decoupler with a carbon or Pt detection electrode were embedded along with the loop allowing integration of the electrophoretic separation with electrochemical detection. A series of catecholamines were separated to show the ability to resolve similar analytes and detect redox active species. The release of dopamine and norepinephrine from PC 12 cells was also analyzed showing the compatibility of these improved microchip separations with high ionic cell buffers associated with cell culture.