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Optical-Switch-Enabled Microfluidics for Sensitive Multichannel Colorimetric Analysis

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journal contribution
posted on 20.04.2021, 18:05 by Jiukai Tang, Xiaobao Cao, Guangyu Qiu, Andrew deMello, Jing Wang
The implementation of colorimetric analysis within microfluidic environments engenders significant benefits with respect to reduced sample and reagent consumption, system miniaturization, and real-time measurement of flowing samples. That said, conventional approaches to colorimetric analysis within microfluidic channels are hampered by short optical pathlengths and single-channel configurations, which lead to poor detection sensitivities and low analytical throughputs. Although the use of multiplexed light source/photodetector modules allows for multichannel analysis, such configurations significantly increase both instrument complexity and cost. To address these issues, we present a four-channel colorimetric measurement scheme within an optical-switch-enabled microfluidic chip (OSEMC) fabricated by two-photon stereolithography. The integration of optical switches enables sequential signal readout from each detection channel, and thus, only a single light source and a photodetector are required for operation. Optical switches can be controlled in a bespoke manner by changing the medium in the switch channel between a “light-transmitting” fluid and a “light-blocking” fluid using pneumatic microvalves. Such optical switches are characterized by fast response times (approximately 200 ms), tunable switching frequencies (between 0.1 and 1.0 Hz studied), and excellent stability. Operational performance demonstrates both good sensitivity and reproducibility through the colorimetric analysis of nitrite and ammonium samples using four detection channels. Furthermore, the use of OSEMC for parallel and real-time analysis of flowing samples is investigated via characterization of the adsorption kinetics of tartrazine on activated charcoal and the catalytic reaction kinetics of horseradish peroxidase (HRP).