, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 1-11
Date: 07 Jun 2006

Evaluation of micromilled metal mold masters for the replication of microchip electrophoresis devices

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High-precision micromilling was assessed as a tool for the rapid fabrication of mold masters for replicating microchip devices in thermoplastics. As an example, microchip electrophoresis devices were hot embossed in poly(methylmethacrylate) (PMMA) from brass masters fabricated via micromilling. Specifically, sidewall roughness and milling topology limitations were investigated. Numerical simulations were performed to determine the effects of additional volumes present on injection plugs (i.e., shape, size, concentration profiles) due to curvature of the corners produced by micromilling. Elongation of the plug was not dramatic (< 20%) for injection crosses with radii of curvatures to channel width ratios less than 0.5. Use of stronger pinching potentials, as compared to sharp-corner injectors, were necessary in order to obtain short sample plugs. The sidewalls of the polymer microstructures were characterized by a maximum average roughness of 115 nm and mean peak height of 290 nm. Sidewall roughness had insignificant effects on the bulk EOF as it was statistically the same for PMMA microchannels with different aspect ratios compared to LiGA-prepared devices with a value of ca. 3.7 × 10−4 cm2/(V s). PMMA microchip electrophoresis devices were used for the separation of pUC19 Sau3AI double-stranded DNA. The plate numbers achieved in the micromilled-based chips exceeded 1 million/m and were comparable to the plate numbers obtained for the LiGA-prepared devices of similar geometry.