Two-level submicron high porosity membranes (2LHPM) for the capture and release of white blood cells (WBCs)†
A method modifying a vacuum-assisted UV micro-molding (VAUM) process is proposed for the fabrication of polymer two-level submicron high porosity membranes (2LHPM). The modified process allows for the fabrication of robust, large-area membranes over 5 × 5 cm2 with a hierarchical architecture made from a 200 nm-thick layer having submicron level pores (as small as 500 nm) supported by a 20 μm-thick layer forming a microporous structure with 10–15 μm diameter pores. The fabricated freestanding membranes are flexible and mechanically robust enough for post manipulation and filtration of cell samples. Very high white blood cell (WBC) capture efficiencies (≈97%) from healthy blood samples after red blood cell (RBC) lysis are demonstrated using a 3D-printed filter cartridge incorporated within these 2LHPM. A high release efficiency of ≈95% is also proved using the same setup. Finally, on-filter multistep immunostaining of captured cells is also shown.