Research Paper

Microfluidics and Nanofluidics

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 907-915

First online:

On-chip CO2 incubation for pocket-sized microfluidic cell culture

  • Atsushi TakanoAffiliated withSchool of Science and Engineering, Tokyo Denki University
  • , Masato TanakaAffiliated withSchool of Science and Engineering, Tokyo Denki UniversityFrontier R&D Center, Tokyo Denki University
  • , Nobuyuki FutaiAffiliated withFrontier R&D Center, Tokyo Denki University Email author 

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We have developed an on-chip CO2 incubation system based on mass/heat transfer from aqueous solutions of bicarbonate source to cell culture media through a permeable poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) wall. Heating a carbonate-buffered bicarbonate solution successfully regulated CO2 generation without any feedback control. Because a microfluidic cell culture chip with the incubation system does not require an external chamber or gas supply, the entire microfluidic cell culture setup becomes pocket sized. Using 5 ml of 0.8 M sodium bicarbonate with 65 mM sodium carbonate as the water jacket, the chip maintained the temperature, osmolality, and pH of 750 μl cell culture medium within physiological levels when the chip was placed on a 37°C surface. The osmolality shift and pCO2 of the media reservoir stabilized within <5 mmol/kg and 5.0 ± 1.0% over at least 9 days. The incubation capabilities were demonstrated through microfluidic culture of COS-7 epithelial cells under an inverted microscope for 17 days.


Cell culture Braille device Microfluidic On-chip CO2 incubation