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Single-Monomer Formulation of Polymerized Polyethylene Glycol Diacrylate as a Nonadsorptive Material for Microfluidics

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journal contribution
posted on 15.08.2011, 00:00 by Chad I. Rogers, Jayson V. Pagaduan, Gregory P. Nordin, Adam T. Woolley
Nonspecific adsorption in microfluidic systems can deplete target molecules in solution and prevent analytes, especially those at low concentrations, from reaching the detector. Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is a widely used material for microfluidics, but it is prone to nonspecific adsorption, necessitating complex chemical modification processes to address this issue. An alternative material to PDMS that does not require subsequent chemical modification is presented here. Poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) mixed with photoinitiator forms on exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation a polymer with inherent resistance to nonspecific adsorption. Optimization of the polymerized PEGDA (poly-PEGDA) formula imbues this material with some of the same properties, including optical clarity, water stability, and low background fluorescence, that make PDMS so popular. Poly-PEGDA demonstrates less nonspecific adsorption than PDMS over a range of concentrations of flowing fluorescently tagged bovine serum albumin solutions, and poly-PEGDA has greater resistance to permeation by small hydrophobic molecules than PDMS. Poly-PEGDA also exhibits long-term (hour scale) resistance to nonspecific adsorption compared to PDMS when exposed to a low (1 μg/mL) concentration of a model adsorptive protein. Electrophoretic separations of amino acids and proteins resulted in symmetrical peaks and theoretical plate counts as high as 4 × 105/m. Poly-PEGDA, which displays resistance to nonspecific adsorption, could have broad use in small volume analysis and biomedical research.