American Chemical Society
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Infrared Temperature Control System for a Completely Noncontact Polymerase Chain Reaction in Microfluidic Chips

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journal contribution
posted on 2007-02-15, 00:00 authored by Michael G. Roper, Christopher J. Easley, Lindsay A. Legendre, Joseph A. C. Humphrey, James P. Landers
A completely noncontact temperature system is described for amplification of DNA via the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in glass microfluidic chips. An infrared (IR)-sensitive pyrometer was calibrated against a thermocouple inserted into a 550-nL PCR chamber and used to monitor the temperature of the glass surface above the PCR chamber during heating and cooling induced by a tungsten lamp and convective air source, respectively. A time lag of less than 1 s was observed between maximum heating rates of the solution and surface, indicating that thermal equilibrium was attained rapidly. Moreover, the time lag was corroborated using a one-dimensional heat-transfer model, which provided insight into the characteristics of the device and environment that caused the time lag. This knowledge will, in turn, allow for future tailoring of the devices to specific applications. To alleviate the need for calibrating the pyrometer with a thermocouple, the on-chip calibration of pyrometer was accomplished by sensing the boiling of two solutions, water and an azeotrope, and comparing the pyrometer output voltage against the known boiling points of these solutions. The “boiling point calibration” was successful as indicated by the subsequent chip-based IR-PCR amplification of a 211-bp fragment of the B. anthracis genome in a chamber reduced beyond the dimensions of a thermocouple. To improve the heating rates, a parabolic gold mirror was positioned above the microfluidic chip, which expedited PCR amplification to 18.8 min for a 30-cycle, three-temperature protocol.