Simple replication methods for producing nanoslits in thermoplastics and the transport dynamics of double-stranded DNA through these slits

Rattikan Chantiwas, Department of Chemistry, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.
Mateusz L. Hupert
Swathi R. Pullagurla
Subramanian Balamurugan
Jesús Tamarit-López
Sunggook Park
Proyag Datta
Jost Goettert
Yoon-Kyoung Cho
Steven A. Soper


Mixed-scale nano- and microfluidic networks were fabricated in thermoplastics using simple and robust methods that did not require the use of sophisticated equipment to produce the nanostructures. High-precision micromilling (HPMM) and photolithography were used to generate mixed-scale molding tools that were subsequently used for producing fluidic networks into thermoplastics such as poly(methyl methacrylate), PMMA, cyclic olefin copolymer, COC, and polycarbonate, PC. Nanoslit arrays were imprinted into the polymer using a nanoimprinting tool, which was composed of an optical mask with patterns that were 2-7 µm in width and a depth defined by the Cr layer (100 nm), which was deposited onto glass. The device also contained a microchannel network that was hot embossed into the polymer substrate using a metal molding tool prepared via HPMM. The mixed-scale device could also be used as a master to produce a polymer stamp, which was made from polydimethylsiloxane, PDMS, and used to generate the mixed-scale fluidic network in a single step. Thermal fusion bonding of the cover plate to the substrate at a temperature below their respective T(g) was accomplished by oxygen plasma treatment of both the substrate and cover plate, which significantly reduced thermally induced structural deformation during assembly: ∼6% for PMMA and ∼9% for COC nanoslits. The electrokinetic transport properties of double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) through the polymeric nanoslits (PMMA and COC) were carried out. In these polymer devices, the dsDNA demonstrated a field-dependent electrophoretic mobility with intermittent transport dynamics. DNA mobilities were found to be 8.2 ± 0.7 × 10(-4) cm(2) V(-1) s(-1) and 7.6 ± 0.6 × 10(-4) cm(2) V(-1) s(-1) for PMMA and COC, respectively, at a field strength of 25 V cm(-1). The extension factors for λ-DNA were 0.46 in PMMA and 0.53 in COC for the nanoslits (2-6% standard deviation).