Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Microfluid Nanofluid (2011) 11:283–296


This article reports on a detailed investigation of sol–gel processed hybrid organic–inorganic materials for use in lab-on-a-chip (LoC) applications. A particular focus on this research was the implementation of integrated microfluidic circuitry in waveguide-based photonic sensing platforms. This objective is not possible using other fabrication technologies that are typically used for microfluidic platforms. Significant results on the surface characterisation of hybrid sol–gel processed materials have been obtained which highlight the ability to tune the hydrophilicity of the materials by careful adjustment of material constituents and processing conditions. A proof-of-principle microfluidic platform was designed and a fabrication process was established which addressed requirements for refractive index tuning (essential for waveguiding), bonding of a transparent cover layer to the device, optimized sol–gel deposition process, and a photolithography process to form the microchannels. Characterisation of fluid flow in the resulting microchannels revealed volumetric flow rates between 0.012 and 0.018 microlitres / min which is characteristic of capillary-driven fluid flow. As proof of the integration of optical and microfluidic functionality, a microchannel was fabricated crossing an optical waveguide which demonstrated that the presence of optical waveguides does not significantly disrupt capillary- driven fluid flow. These results represent the first comprehensive evaluation of photocurable hybrid sol–gel materials for use in waveguide-based photonic platforms for lab-on-a-chip applications.



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