A compact integrated microfluidic oxygenator with high gas exchange efficiency and compatibility for long-lasting endothelialization†
We have developed and tested a novel microfluidic device for blood oxygenation, which exhibits a large surface area of gas exchange and can support long-term sustainable endothelialization of blood microcapillaries, enhancing its hemocompatibility for clinical applications. The architecture of the parallel stacking of the trilayers is based on a central injection for blood and a lateral injection/output for gas which allows significant reduction in shear stress, promoting sustainable endothelialization since cells can be maintained viable for up to 2 weeks after initial seeding in the blood microchannel network. The circular design of curved blood capillaries allows covering a maximal surface area at 4 inch wafer scale, producing high oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide release in each single unit. Since the conventional bonding process based on oxygen plasma cannot be used for surface areas larger than several cm2, a new “wet bonding” process based on soft microprinting has been developed and patented. Using this new protocol, each 4 inch trilayer unit can be sealed without a collapsed membrane even at reduced 15 μm thickness and can support a high blood flow rate. The height of the blood channels has been optimized to reduce pressure drop and enhance gas exchange at a high volumetric blood flow rate up to 15 ml min−1. The simplicity of connecting different units in the stacked architecture is demonstrated for 3- or 5-unit stacked devices that exhibit remarkable performance with low primary volume, high oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide release and high flow rate of up to 80 ml min−1.