Femtoliter Volumetric Pipette and Flask Utilizing Nanofluidics
Microfluidics has achieved integration of analytical processes in microspaces and realized miniaturized analyses in fields such as chemistry and biology. We have proposed a general concept of integration and extended this concept to the 10–1000 nm scale exploring ultimate analytical performances (e.g. immunoassay of a single-protein molecule). However, a sampling method is still challenging for nanofluidics despite its importance in analytical chemistry. In this study, we developed a femtoliter (fL) sampling method for volume measurement and sample transport. Traditionally, sampling has been performed using a volumetric pipette and flask. In this research, a nanofluidic device consisting of a femtoliter volumetric pipette and flask was fabricated on glass substrates. Since gravity, which is exploited in bulk fluidic operations, becomes less dominant than surface effects on the nanometer scale, fluidic operation of the femtoliter sampling was designed utilizing surface tension and air pressure control. The working principle of an 11 fL volumetric pipette and a 50 fL flask, which were connected by a nanochannel, was verified. It was found that evaporation of the sample solution by air flow was a significant source of error because of the ultra-small volumes being processed. Thus, the evaporation issue was solved by suppressing the air flow. As a result, the volumetric measurement error was decreased to ±0.06 fL (CV 0.6%), which is sufficiently low for use in nanofluidic analytical applications. This study will present a fundamental technology for the development of novel analytical methods for femtoliter volume samples such as single molecule analyses.