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Nanotech News

January 30, 2006

Characterizing Key Polymer for Biomedical Nanofluidic Systems

Polydimethylsiloxane, or PDMS, is a biocompatible polymer that has become increasingly popular among researchers who are designing and constructing microfluidic and nanofluidic devices that may eventually be used to diagnose cancer more quickly and inexpensively than is possible today. To help speed the commercial development of such devices, researchers at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation undertook a detailed physical characterization of PDMS. The results of these studies have now been published in the journal Biomedical Microdevices.

Shuvo Roy, Ph.D., and his colleagues studied the structural and surface properties of Sylgard® 184, a widely used, commercially available form of PDMS. The investigators subjected this material to a set of conditions that mimic those that would be used to manufacture microfluidics devices using techniques such as soft lithography, spin coating, chemical immersion, and micromachining. The investigators also measured the behavior of PDMS exposed to tissue culture medium as a means of assessing how these materials would behave in the presence of biological samples.

To assess the affect of these different processes and conditions on PDMS, the investigators used a wide range of measurement techniques. The results of their characterization studies, along with detailed descriptions of the methods used in their experiments, are summarized in this paper. The investigators note that the results of their analyses suggest that it should be possible to modify the mechanical properties of PDMS, an important consideration for optimizing manufacturability, without changing the surface chemistry of the polymer. Surface chemistry plays a critical role in how PDMS interacts with biomolecules.

This work is detailed in a paper titled, “Characterization of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) properties for biomedical micro/nanosystems.” An abstract is available through PubMed.
View abstract.