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1.4 CHEMICAL SCIENCES
This study investigates the development of high surface energy photoreactive organic inorganic hybrid sol-gel coatings for the microstructuration of high-resolution microfluidic platforms and optofluidic biosensor platforms by standard photolithography processes. To achieve this, the first step of our work consisted of identifying the fundamental physico chemical processes governing the structuration and surface properties of hybrid organic inorganic sol-gel coatings. For this purpose, a reference material based on the combination of an organosilane (3-Methacryloxypropytrimethoxysilane, MAPTMS) and a transition metal (zirconium propoxide, ZPO), was firstly developed and characterised. It was highlighted that chemical, physical and combined physical and chemical processes can be performed to impact the structure, morphology and surface properties of hybrid sol-gel coatings. Therefore, our work progressed towards the investigations of chemical strategies that may impact the general properties of hybrid coatings, with a specific objective on the alteration of their surface properties. For this purpose, 3 strategies have identified including (1) to alter the content of transition metal, (2) to vary the hydrolysis degree and (3) to form core-shell nanoparticle by the surface functionalisation of the reference material during its preparation along with the curing process of the coatings. The materials were characterised employing a set of structural, thermal and surface characterisations techniques namely Contact Angle measurements (CA), DLS, DSC, FTIR, 29Si-NMR. Fundamentally, a triangular relationship between the wettability, the condensation and curing process of the coatings was taking place. More specifically, the wettability was governed by the occurrence of parallel and competitive hydroxylation and condensation processes of the coatings. Having performed the identified chemical strategies, our work has progressed towards the investigations of physical and physico-chemical treatments of the final coatings. Here, the effects of air-plasma, nitrogen-plasma and plasma treatments combined with post-silane ii surface functionalisation were performed and the durability of the treatments investigated. Although hydrophobic recovery was observed for all materials, it was found that air-plasma enabled to achieve the most stable surface properties due to the formation of hydrophilic hydroxyl groups at the surface of the coatings. The next step of the work focussed on the microstructuration fabrication of a microfluidic platform. The photolithography fabrication conditions were established to enable the successful preparation of well-defined microchannels with resolutions ranging from 50 to 500 microns. Having developed our microfluidic platform, our work concentrated on developing strategies to integrate an optical transducer onto the platform to enable the fabrication of an optofluidic device that may be applied as biosensor, thus demonstrating the potential of our technology for biosensing applications. The biosensor design we proposed consisted of integrated optical waveguides onto microfluidics that would also be fabricated employing a photolithography process. The fabrications conditions of the optofluidic platform were established by considering the required optical conditions that enable efficient light propagation in the waveguides, which can be used as an optical excitation to fluorophores located within sensor spots in the microchannels. The successful demonstration of concept of the optofluidic-based biosensor concept was successfully performed by recording optical emissions of biomolecules fluorophores under optical excitations with the optical waveguides integrated on the microfluidic platform. The work reported in this thesis has been multidisciplinary requiring chemistry, physics, biotechnology and engineering competencies which have been synergised for the development of the first “whole hybrid sol-gel optofluidic biosensor platform”. It is also showing the potential of the proposed technology for applications where functional microstructured coatings are required.
MacHugh, E. (2019) Development and Characterisation of High Surface Energy Microstructured Sol-gel Coatings for Sensing Applications , Doctoral Thesis, Technological University Dublin. DOI:10.21427/gbgk-zm81