Chemical Approaches to the Surface Engineering of Paper and Cellulose-Based Materials for Microfluidics, Electronics and Low-Cost Diagnostics
CitationGlavan, Ana. 2016. Chemical Approaches to the Surface Engineering of Paper and Cellulose-Based Materials for Microfluidics, Electronics and Low-Cost Diagnostics. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractPaper (and other cellulose-based materials such as cotton thread and fabrics) are underexploited as materials for the construction of “high-tech” and “lab-on-a-chip” devices. One major drawback of paper is its tendency to absorb water from the environment and, with wetting, to change its mechanical properties; other challenges relate to control over the attachment of molecules (e.g. antibodies, DNA) and cells on its surface, and to the addition of electronic function. The goal of this thesis is to develop paper as a substrate for a range of applications— microfluidics, substrates for electronic systems and MEMS, low-cost diagnostics, cell biology, and optics. The approach involves chemically modifying the surface of the paper to provide new functions without altering any of its defining properties: mechanical flexibility, foldability, light weight, gas permeability, and low cost.
The first part of my thesis describes the modification of paper by silanization with organosilanes such as alkyl- and fluoroalkyl trichlorosilanes in the gas phase. Here, silanization is used to lower the surface free energy of the paper and to minimize the tendency of paper to absorb liquids and vapors, and especially water. Chapter 1 and Appendix 3 demonstrate that the combination of long fluoroalkyl chains of grafted siloxanes with the micro-scale roughness and porosity of paper yielded a material that is omniphobic (both hydrophobic and oleophobic), while preserving the properties of mechanical flexibility and low resistance to transport of gas of the untreated paper. Appendix 3 shows that features of omniphobic paper can be used to construct microtiter plates and liquid-filled gas sensors using standard paper folding techniques, while Appendix 4 shows that new type of microfluidic device fabricated by carving microchannels into the surface of omniphobic paper. The resulting devices have open, unobstructed channels (with dimensions as small as 45 μm) and thus exhibit fluid dynamics similar to conventional PDMS-based microfluidics, but are much lighter and have the potential to be much less expensive than PDMS-based devices.
The second part of my thesis is focused on engineering the surface of paper to enable efficient immobilization of capture and target molecules for bioanalysis. In one approach, described in Appendix 5, we exploit the ease with which the surface chemistry of paper (i.e. the surface of the cellulose fibers making up the paper) can be modified, in order to enhance the immobilization of antibodies and antigens on the surface of the paper via hydrophobic interactions, while preventing the wicking of the fluids into the paper substrate. As an application in low-cost diagnostics, we describe a low-cost electrochemical device for ELISA intended for use in resource-limited settings. In a second approach, described in Chapter 2, we developed of an efficient procedure for assembling microarrays of ssDNA and proteins on paper, at the lowest practical cost. This method starts with the synthesis of DNA oligonucleotides covalently linked to paper, and proceeds to generate ssDNA arrays that, through hybridization with complementary strands of DNA, are capable of simultaneously capturing DNA, DNA-conjugated protein antigens, and DNA-conjugated antibodies.
The third part of my thesis describes the simple, inexpensive fabrication of electrodes for paper-based electrochemical systems. A first method describes, in Appendix 6, the development of inkjet printing as a method for high resolution printing of conductive patterns on omniphobic “RF” paper, both to extend its promise as a substrate for paper electronics, and to enable us to integrate it into our program in low-cost, paper based diagnostics. A second method, described in Chapter 3, circumvents the need for printing, and instead focuses on the fabrication and reconfiguration of simple, versatile, and inexpensive electroanalytical devices in which conventional stainless-steel pins—in unmodified form or after coating with a carbon paste—are used as electrodes.
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