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Microfabrication of 3D Structures Using Novel Thermoplastic Elastomers

A.P. Sudarsan, J. Wang and V.M. Ugaz
Texas A&M University, US

microfluidics, rapid prototyping, PDMS, multi-height, soft lithography

We demonstrate the use of novel thermoplastic elastomers synthesized by dissolving readily available polystyrene–(polyethylene/ polybutylene)–polystyrene (SBS/SEBS) triblock copolymers (e.g., Kraton™ G series) in hydrocarbon oils for which the ethylene/butylene midblocks are selectively miscible. The insoluble styrene endblocks phase separate into localized domains, resulting in the formation of a 3-D gel network. The resulting gels are elastic solids at room temperature and share all of the desirable features of PDMS (e.g., biocompatibility, electric neutrality, optical transparency). They also have the advantage of being melt-processable in the vicinity of 100 ºC. Fabrication of microfluidic devices is accomplished taking an impression from a pre-heated master onto a slab of the elastomer. We demonstrate the suitability of these elastomeric materials as substrates for microfluidic applications by constructing devices for DNA electrophoresis and diffusive transport studies. We are also able to easily assemble a variety of complex multilayered structures in only a few minutes. A further advantage involves making multi-height structures in a single micro-device.

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