We introduce a manufacturable and scalable method for creating tunable wrinkled ferromagnetic-metallic structures to enhance fluorescence signals. Thin layers of nickel (Ni) and gold (Au) were deposited onto a pre-stressed thermoplastic (shrink wrap film) polymer. Heating briefly forced the metal films to buckle when the thermoplastic retracted, resulting in multi-scale composite 'wrinkles'. This is the first demonstration of leveraging the plasmons in such hybrid nanostructures by metal enhanced fluorescence (MEF) in the near-infrared wavelengths. We observed more than three orders of magnitude enhancement in the fluorescence signal of a single molecule of goat anti-mouse immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody conjugated to fluorescein isothiocyanate, FITC, (FITC-IgG) by two-photon excitation with these structures. These large enhancements in the fluorescence signal at the nanoscale gaps between the composite wrinkles corresponded to shortened lifetimes due to localized surface plasmons. To characterize these structures, we combined fluctuation correlation spectroscopy (FCS), fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM), and two-photon microscopy to spatially and temporally map the hot spots with high resolution.
We describe a manufacturable and scalable method for fabrication of multiscale wrinkled silica (SiO2) structures on shrink-wrap film to enhance fluorescence signals in DNA fluorescence microarrays. We are able to enhance the fluorescence signal of hybridized DNA by more than 120 fold relative to a planar glass slide. Notably, our substrate has improved detection sensitivity (280 pM) relative to planar glass slide (11 nM). Furthermore, this is accompanied by a 30-45 times improvement in the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Unlike metal enhanced fluorescence (MEF) based enhancements, this is a far-field and uniform effect based on surface concentration and photophysical effects from the nano- to microscale SiO2 structures. Notably, the photophysical effects contribute an almost 2.5 fold enhancement over the concentration effects alone. Therefore, this simple and robust method offers an efficient technique to enhance the detection capabilities of fluorescence based DNA microarrays.
The field of micro- and nanofabrication has developed extensively in the past several decades with rising interest in alternative fabrication techniques. Growth of these areas has been driven by needs that remain unaddressed by traditional lithographical methods: inexpensive, upscalable, biocompatible, and easily integrated into complete lab-on-a-chip (LOC) systems. Shape memory polymers (SMPs) have been explored as an alternative substrate. This review first focuses on structure fabrication at the micron and nanoscale using specifically heat-shrinkable SMPs and highlights the innovative improvements to this technology in the past several years. The second part of the review illustrates demonstrated applications of these micro- and nanostructures fabricated from heat-shrinkable SMP films. The review concludes with a discussion about future prospects of heat-shrinkable SMP structures for integration into LOC systems.
The anisotropic alignment of cardiomyocytes in native myocardium tissue is a functional feature that is absent in traditional in vitro cardiac cell culture. Microenvironmental factors cue structural organization of the myocardium, which promotes the mechanical contractile properties and electrophysiological patterns seen in mature cardiomyocytes. Current nano- and microfabrication techniques, such as photolithography, generate simplified cell culture topographies that are not truly representative of the multifaceted and multi-scale fibrils of the cardiac extracellular matrix. In addition, such technologies are costly and require a clean room for fabrication. This chapter offers an easy, fast, robust, and inexpensive fabrication of biomimetic multi-scale wrinkled surfaces through the process of plasma treating and shrinking prestressed thermoplastic. Additionally, this chapter includes techniques for culturing stem cells and their cardiac derivatives on these substrates. Importantly, this wrinkled cell culture platform is compatible with both fluorescence and bright-field imaging; real-time physiological monitoring of CM action potential propagation and contraction properties can elucidate cardiotoxicity drug effects.
Photolithographically defined metallic thin film on commodity shrink-wrap is leveraged to create robust electrodes. By thermally shrinking the film, electrodes are reduced by 20× in footprint for improved resolution and conductivity with >600% enhancements in electrochemically active surface area; as electrochemiluminescent sensors, they demonstrate improved limits of detection.
We present an integrated platform comprised of a biomimetic substrate and physiologically aligned human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (CMs) with optical detection and algorithms to monitor subtle changes in cardiac properties under various conditions. In the native heart, anisotropic tissue structures facilitate important concerted mechanical contraction and electrical propagation. To recapitulate the architecture necessary for a physiologically accurate heart response, we have developed a simple way to create large areas of aligned CMs with improved functional properties using shrink-wrap film. Combined with simple bright field imaging, obviating the need for fluorescent labels or beads, we quantify and analyze key cardiac contractile parameters. To evaluate the performance capabilities of this platform, the effects of two drugs, E-4031 and isoprenaline, were examined. Cardiac cells supplemented with E-4031 exhibited an increase in contractile duration exclusively due to prolonged relaxation peak. Notably, cells aligned on the biomimetic platform responded detectably down to a dosage of 3 nM E-4031, which is lower than the IC50 in the hERG channel assay. Cells supplemented with isoprenaline exhibited increased contractile frequency and acceleration. Interestingly, cells grown on the biomimetic substrate were more responsive to isoprenaline than those grown on the two control surfaces, suggesting topography may help induce more mature ion channel development. This simple and low-cost platform could thus be a powerful tool for longitudinal assays as well as an effective tool for drug screening and basic cardiac research.
Human (h) pluripotent stem cells (PSC) such as embryonic stem cells (ESC) can be directed into cardiomyocytes (CMs), representing a potential unlimited cell source for disease modeling, cardiotoxicity screening and myocardial repair. Although the electrophysiology of single hESC-CMs is now better defined, their multi-cellular arrhythmogenicity has not been thoroughly assessed due to the lack of a suitable experimental platform. Indeed, the generation of ventricular (V) fibrillation requires single-cell triggers as well as sustained multi-cellular reentrant events. Although native VCMs are aligned in a highly organized fashion such that electrical conduction is anisotropic for coordinated contractions, hESC-derived CM (hESC-CM) clusters are heterogenous and randomly organized, and therefore not representative of native conditions. Here, we reported that engineered alignment of hESC-VCMs on biomimetic grooves uniquely led to physiologically relevant responses. Aligned but not isotropic control preparations showed distinct longitudinal (L) and transverse (T) conduction velocities (CV), resembling the native human V anisotropic ratio (AR = LCV/TCV = 1.8-2.0). Importantly, the total incidence of spontaneous and inducible arrhythmias significantly reduced from 57% in controls to 17-23% of aligned preparations, thereby providing a physiological baseline for assessing arrhythmogenicity. As such, promotion of pro-arrhythmic effect (e.g., spatial dispersion by ? adrenergic stimulation) could be better predicted. Mechanistically, such anisotropy-induced electrical stability was not due to maturation of the cellular properties of hESC-VCMs but their physical arrangement. In conclusion, not only do functional anisotropic hESC-VCMs engineered by multi-scale topography represent a more accurate model for efficacious drug discovery and development as well as arrhythmogenicity screening (of pharmacological and genetic factors), but our approach may also lead to future transplantable prototypes with improved efficacy and safety against arrhythmias.
We present a plastic microfluidic device with integrated nanoscale magnetic traps (NSMTs) that separates magnetic from non-magnetic beads with high purity and throughput, and unprecedented enrichments. Numerical simulations indicate significantly higher localized magnetic field gradients than previously reported. We demonstrated >20?000-fold enrichment for 0.001% magnetic bead mixtures. Since we achieve high purity at all flow-rates tested, this is a robust, rapid, portable, and simple solution to sort target species from small volumes amenable for point-of-care applications. We used the NSMT in a 96 well format to extract DNA from small sample volumes for quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR).
A biomimetic substrate for cell-culture is fabricated by plasma treatment of a prestressed thermoplastic shrink film to create tunable multiscaled alignment "wrinkles". Using this substrate, the functional alignment of human embryonic stem cell derived cardiomyocytes is demonstrated.
The ability to interrogate and track single cells over time in a high-throughput format would provide critical information for fundamental biological understanding of processes and for various applications, including drug screening and toxicology. We have developed an ultrarapid and simple method to create single-cell wells of controllable diameter and depth with commodity shrink-wrap film and tape. Using a programmable CO(2) laser, we cut hole arrays into the tape. The tape then serves as a shadow mask to selectively etch wells into commodity shrink-wrap film by O(2) plasma. When the shrink-wrap film retracts upon briefly heating, high-aspect plastic microwell arrays with diameters down to 20 ?m are readily achieved. We calibrated the loading procedure with fluorescent microbeads. Finally, we demonstrate the utility of the wells by loading fluorescently labeled single human embryonic stem cells into the wells.
Endeavoring to push the boundaries of microfabrication with shrinkable polymers, we have developed a sequential shrink photolithography process. We demonstrate the utility of this approach by rapidly fabricating plastic microlens arrays. First, we create a mask out of the childrens toy Shrinky Dinks by simply printing dots using a standard desktop printer. Upon retraction of this pre-stressed thermoplastic sheet, the dots shrink to a fraction of their original size, which we then lithographically transfer onto photoresist-coated commodity shrink wrap film. This shrink film reduces in area by 95% when briefly heated, creating smooth convex photoresist bumps down to 30 µm. Taken together, this sequential shrink process provides a complete process to create microlenses, with an almost 99% reduction in area from the original pattern size. Finally, with a lithography molding step, we emboss these bumps into optical grade plastics such as cyclic olefin copolymer for functional microlens arrays.
Nano- and microscale topographical cues play critical roles in the induction and maintenance of various cellular functions, including morphology, adhesion, gene regulation, and communication. Recent studies indicate that structure and function at the heart tissue level is exquisitely sensitive to mechanical cues at the nano-scale as well as at the microscale level. Although fabrication methods exist for generating topographical features for cell culture, current techniques, especially those with nanoscale resolution, are typically complex, prohibitively expensive, and not accessible to most biology laboratories. Here, we present a tunable culture platform comprised of biomimetic wrinkles that simulate the hearts complex anisotropic and multiscale architecture for facile and robust cardiac cell alignment. We demonstrate the cellular and subcellular alignment of both neonatal mouse cardiomyocytes as well as those derived from human embryonic stem cells. By mimicking the fibrillar network of the extracellular matrix, this system enables monitoring of protein localization in real time and therefore the high-resolution study of phenotypic and physiologic responses to in-vivo like topographical cues.
As advances in microfluidics continue to make contributions to diagnostics and life sciences, broader awareness of this expanding field becomes necessary. By leveraging low-cost microfabrication techniques that require no capital equipment or infrastructure, simple, accessible, and effective educational modules can be made available for a broad range of educational needs from middle school demonstrations to college laboratory classes. These modules demonstrate key microfluidic concepts such as diffusion and separation as well as "laboratory on-chip" applications including chemical reactions and biological assays. These modules are intended to provide an interdisciplinary hands-on experience, including chip design, fabrication of functional devices, and experiments at the microscale. Consequently, students will be able to conceptualize physics at small scales, gain experience in computer-aided design and microfabrication, and perform experiments-all in the context of addressing real-world challenges by making their own lab-on-chip devices.
The potential of rapid, quantitative, and sensitive diagnosis has led to many innovative lab on chip technologies for point of care diagnostic applications. Because these chips must be designed within strict cost constraints to be widely deployable, recent research in this area has produced extremely novel non-conventional micro- and nano-fabrication innovations. These advances can be leveraged for other biological assays as well, including for custom assay development and academic prototyping. The technologies reviewed here leverage extremely low-cost substrates and easily adoptable ways to pattern both structural and biological materials at high resolution in unprecedented ways. These new approaches offer the promise of more rapid prototyping with less investment in capital equipment as well as greater flexibility in design. Though still in their infancy, these technologies hold potential to improve upon the resolution, sensitivity, flexibility, and cost-savings over more traditional approaches.
This paper presents a rapid, ultra-low-cost approach to fabricate microfluidic devices using a polyolefin shrink film and a digital craft cutter. The shrinking process (with a 95% reduction in area) results in relatively uniform and consistent microfluidic channels with smooth surfaces, vertical sidewalls, and high aspect ratio channels with lateral resolutions well beyond the tool used to cut them. The thermal bonding of the layers results in strongly bonded devices. Complex microfluidic designs are easily designed on the fly and protein assays are also readily integrated into the device. Full device characterization including channel consistency, optical properties, and bonding strength are assessed in this technical note.
We present a theory for the multiple scattering of light by obstacles situated over a rough surface. This problem is important for applications in biological and chemical sensors. To keep the formulation of this theory simple, we study scalar waves. This theory requires knowledge of the scattering operator (t-matrix) for each of the obstacles as well as the reflection operator for the rough surface. The scattering operator gives the field scattered by the obstacle due to an exciting field incident on the scatterer. The reflection operator gives the field reflected by the rough surface due to an exciting field incident on the rough surface. We apply this general theory for the special case of point scatterers and a slightly rough surface with homogeneous Dirichlet and Neumann boundary conditions. We show examples that demonstrate the utility of this theory.
Polyolefins are finding increased popularity in microfluidic applications due to their attractive mechanical, processing, and optical properties. While intricate features are typically realized in these thermoplastics by hot embossing and injection molding, such fabrication approaches are expensive and slow. Here, we apply our shrink-induced approach-first demonstrated with polystyrene Shrinky-Dink sheets-to create micro- and nanostructures with cross-linked polyolefin thin films. These multi-layered films shrink by 95% and with greater uniformity than the Shrinky-Dinks. With such significant reduction in size, along with attractive material properties, such commodity films could find important applications in low cost microfluidic prototyping as well as in point-of-care diagnostics. In this technical note, we demonstrate the ability to rapidly and easily create unique microstructures, increase microarray feature density, and even induce self-assembled integrated metallic nanostructures with these shrink wrap films.
Embryoid body (EB) formation closely recapitulates early embryonic development with respect to lineage commitment. Because it is greatly affected by cell-cell and cell-substrate interactions, the ability to control the initial number of cells in the aggregates and to provide an appropriate substrate are crucial parameters for uniform EB formation. Here we report of an ultra-rapid fabrication and culture method utilizing a laser-jet printer to generate closely arrayed honeycomb microwells of tunable sizes for the induction of uniform EBs from single cell suspension. By printing various microwell patterns onto pre-stressed polystyrene sheets, and through heat induced shrinking, high aspect micromolds are generated. Notably, we achieve rounded bottom polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) wells not easily achievable with standard microfabrication methods, but critical to achieve spherical EBs. Furthermore, by simply controlling the size of the microwells and the concentration of the cell suspension we can control the initial size of the cell aggregate, thus influencing lineage commitment. In addition, these microwells are easily adaptable and scalable to most standard well plates and easily integrated into commercial liquid handling systems to provide an inexpensive and easy high throughput compound screening platform.
Structurally modified superhydrophobic surfaces have become particularly desirable as stable antibacterial surfaces. Because their self-cleaning and water resistant properties prohibit bacteria growth, structurally modified superhydrophobic surfaces obviate bacterial resistance common with chemical agents, and therefore a robust and stable means to prevent bacteria growth is possible. In this study, we present a rapid fabrication method for creating such superhydrophobic surfaces in consumer hard plastic materials with resulting antibacterial effects. To replace complex fabrication materials and techniques, the initial mold is made with commodity shrink-wrap film and is compatible with large plastic roll-to-roll manufacturing and scale-up techniques. This method involves a purely structural modification free of chemical additives leading to its inherent consistency over time and successive recasting from the same molds. Finally, antibacterial properties are demonstrated in polystyrene (PS), polycarbonate (PC), and polyethylene (PE) by demonstrating the prevention of gram-negative Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria growth on our structured plastic surfaces.
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