“ There is an intellectual merit to asking how do we make things as simple as we can, as cheap as we can, as functional as we can, and as freely interconnectable as we can.”
Professor George Whitesides, 2010 TED Talk: Towards a Science of Simplicity.
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.
Customized devices for a variety of applications
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.