Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Instruments/equipments in a microfluidic laboratory

I am presenting the instruments/facilities that we use in our microfluidic/nanofluidics instrumentation laboratory. We primarily fabricate glass based microfluidic devices ourselves and use them for different biological applications.

1. We have a basic photolithography setup that includes a dark room, UV light source and developing solution.
2. Then we perform wet chemical etching to make channel networks on the substrate glass plate using BOE (buffered oxide etchant) which is an appropriate mixture of HF and NH4F.

Chemical wet etching setup

The BOE solution is heated to certain temp to fasten the etching rate and stirred continuously to have uniform etching. The solution on the right is Chromium etchant which removes chromium layer from the substrate plate.

3. Sand blaster is used to make holes to have access to the channels. It uses 25-50 micron  sand particles which are bombarded on the surface of glass substrate. It makes holes of ~1mm diameter.
Sand blaster to make holes

4. This small microscope is sometimes used to visualize the channels during chip fabrication process.

5. Ovens: We have two ovens. Both of them are used for drying purpose and for high temperature bonding of glass plates (right one).

6. Refrigerators: We have two refrigerators. One shown below is set for 4 deg C and also has a -20 deg C freezer. We use this for storing our biological samples (proteins, reagents). The other one (not shown here) maintains a temp of -76 deg C. This is used to use those samples which require very low temp. 

7. Centrifuge, UV lamp, and sonicator

8. Profiler: This is used to measure the depth of micro/nano channels. It measure upto nanometer level.

9. Fluorescence microscopes: We have four fluorescence microscopes. They are equipped with highly sensitive camera or PMT detectors. Using these microscope we study different phenomena occurring inside microchannels. These microscopes are also equipped with high voltage power supply devices.

10. Metal evaporator: We use this device to make electrodes in the microcip. It evaporates metal (we use chromium and gold, regularly) on the chip surface in a vacuum chamber.

11. Black boxes: We have four of such black boxes which have laser induced fluorescence, high voltage power supply and are controlled using PC. 


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