PETLs: Thin and Flexible Microfluidics
Widespread adoption of lab-on-a-chip technologies can be encouraged by the development of methods and devices that require minimal investment and expertise. We developed a type of device that makes exclusive use of consumer-grade components and equipment. The devices consist of as little as three layers of a polymer film, with microchannels shaped by an inexpensive craft cutter, and sealed by thermal lamination.
Affordability and Rapid Iteration
Inexpensive equipment and low cost materials make PETLs a viable solution for in-house production of custom chips. Fabrication time is in the order of minutes, and the method requires little training or expertise (see our JOVE manuscript-in press). Be it at the research bench or in the classroom, our approach lowers the barrier-to-entry for reliable microfluidic devices that are flexible and ten to thirty-times thinner than the common PDMS/glass alternative.
Showcasing the properties and versatility of the devices, we initially used PETLs to generate fully biocompatible lipid-based nanoparticles, and to teach microfludics to high school and college students (see PETLs in the undergraduate chemistry lab-link). More recently we have adapted PETLs to carry out dialysis using nano membranes, for compression studies in mechanobiology settings, for electrophoresis, and for imaging and cell culture.