Microfluidic chips known as μ-TAS or LoC have become versatile tools in cell research, since functional biochips are able to streamline dynamic observations of various cells. Glass or polymers are generally used as the substrate due to their high transparency, chemical stability and cost-effectiveness. However, these materials are not well suited to the microscopic observation at the fluid boundary due to the refractive index mismatch between the medium and the biochip material. For this reason, we have developed a method of fabricating three-dimensional (3D) microfluidic chips made of a low refractive index fluoric polymer CYTOP. CYTOP has a refractive index of 1.34, a value that is almost equivalent to that of water. This optical property is very important for clear 3D microscopic observations of cell motion near the solid boundary, due to the minimal mismatch between the refractive index values of the medium and the CYTOP substrate. Therefore, CYTOP microfluidics are expected to allow the generation of clear images of unique cell migratory processes near the microfluidic sidewall. Therefore, we established the fabrication procedure involving the use of femtosecond laser direct writing, followed by wet etching and annealing, to create high-quality 3D microfluidics inside a polymer substrate. A microfluidic chip made in this manner enables us to more clearly observe areas near the fluid surface, compared to the observations possible using conventional microfluidic chips.
Y. Hanada, "3D microfluidic fabrication using a low refractive index polymer for clear microscopic observation at the fluid boundary," Proc. SPIE 10523, Laser 3D Manufacturing V, 105230A (Presented at SPIE LASE: January 29, 2018; Published: 26 February 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2293212.
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