Micro-macro hybrid soft-lithography master (MMHSM) fabrication for lab-on-a-chip applications
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We present a novel micro-macro hybrid soft-lithography master (MMHSM) fabrication technique where microdevices having both microscale and macroscale features can be replicated with a single soft-lithography step. A poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) master having macroscale structures was first created by a bench-top milling machine. An imprinting master mold having microscale structures was then imprinted on the PMMA surface through a hot-embossing process to obtain a PMMA master mold. A poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) master was then replicated from this PMMA master through a standard soft-lithography process. This process allowed both microscale (height: 3–20 μm, width: 20–500 μm) and macroscale (height: 3.5 mm, width: 1.2–7 mm) structures to co-exist on the PDMS master mold, from which final PDMS devices could be easily stamped out in large quantities. Microfluidic structures requiring macroscale dimensions in height, such as reservoirs or fluidic tubing interconnects, could be directly built into PDMS microfluidic devices without the typically used manual punching process. This significantly reduced alignment errors and time required for such manual fabrication steps. In this paper, we successfully demonstrated the utility of this novel hybrid fabrication method by fabricating a PDMS microfluidic device with 40 built-in fluidic interfaces and a PDMS multi-compartment neuron co-culture platform, where millimeter-scale compartments are connected via arrays of 20 μm wide and 200 μm long microfluidic channels. The resulting structures were characterized for the integrity of the transferred pattern sizes and the surface roughness using scanning electron microscopy and optical profilometry.