Solvent-resistant photocurable liquid fluoropolymers for microfluidic device fabrication [corrected]

J Am Chem Soc. 2004 Mar 3;126(8):2322-3. doi: 10.1021/ja031657y.

Abstract

We report the first fabrication of a solvent-compatible microfluidic device based on photocurable "Liquid Teflon" materials. The materials are highly fluorinated functionalized perfluoropolyethers (PFPEs) that have liquidlike viscosities that can be cured into tough, highly durable elastomers that exhibit the remarkable chemical resistance of fluoropolymers such as Teflon. Poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) elastomers have rapidly become the material of choice for many recent microfluidic device applications. Despite the advantages of PDMS in relation to microfluidics technology, the material suffers from a serious drawback in that it swells in most organic solvents. The swelling of PDMS-based devices in organic solvents greatly disrupts the micrometer-sized features and makes it impossible for fluids to flow inside the channels. Our approach to this problem has been to replace PDMS with photocurable perfluoropolyethers. Device fabrication and valve actuation were accomplished using established procedures for PDMS devices. The additional advantage of photocuring allows fabrication time to be decreased from several hours to a matter of minutes. The PFPE-based device exhibited mechanical properties similar to those of Sylgard 184 before and after curing as well as remarkable resistance to organic solvents. This work has the potential to expand the field of microfluidics to many novel applications.