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Microfabrication for Packaged Biomolecular Unit Cells

[+] Author Affiliations
Mary-Anne Nguyen, Andy Sarles

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

Paper No. SMASIS2013-3068, pp. V002T06A006; 7 pages
  • ASME 2013 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems
  • Volume 2: Mechanics and Behavior of Active Materials; Structural Health Monitoring; Bioinspired Smart Materials and Systems; Energy Harvesting
  • Snowbird, Utah, USA, September 16–18, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: Aerospace Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5604-8
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME


This paper focuses on developing a closed fluidic environment for packaging biomolecular unit cells, which consists of a synthetic lipid bilayer and other biomolecules contained in a near solid-state material with two regions that contain hydrophobic oil (i.e. nonpolar solvent) surrounding aqueous droplets. This research provides a stepping-stone towards an autonomic biomolecular material system, whereby a packaged system will allow for precise droplet interface bilayer (DIB) formation without the interference of outside contamination for long-term applications. Also, substrate materials need to maintain droplets and preserve the self-assembly and stimuli-responsive properties of biomolecules within the unit cell. A critical feature of an encapsulating material is that it does not absorb either of the liquid phases required to form DIBs. Oil depletion tests within sealed, polymeric substrates show that polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) absorbs full volume of injected hexadecane in approximately 27 hours. However, polyurethane substrates maintain the original amount of oil injected even after several weeks. Bilayer lifetime is also monitored within an environment in which the oil is also depleting. The results of this test show the longevity of a DIB to be shorter than oil lifetime. The lipid-encased droplets disconnect after approximately 10 hours, when there is only approximately <60% amount of oil present. In addition, an initial microfluidic substrate is designed such that a single T-junction intersection can be used to form monodisperse droplets within a primary oil-filled channel and a downstream increase in channel width can be used to connect droplets to form DIBs.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME



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