Three-Dimensional Passivated-Electrode Insulator-Based Dielectrophoresis (3D-PiDEP)
Zellner, Phillip Andrew
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The focus of this research is the isolation of waterborne pathogens which are one of the grand challenges to human health, costing the lives of about 2.5 million people worldwide each year. The aim was to develop new microfluidic techniques for selectively concentrating and detecting waterborne pathogens. Detection of microbes in water can greatly help reduce deaths; however, analytical instruments cannot readily detect them due to the extreme dilution of these microbes, and hence, require significant sample concentration. Current methods are expensive and either require days to process or are not sufficiently robust for water monitoring. Microfluidic chips based on insulator-based dielectrophoresis (iDEP) provide a promising solution to these problems and have been previously used to selectively concentrate biological particle such as bacteria. The microfluidic devices in this work were created with a 3D mircofabrication technique, which we also developed as part of this project. The core process of the technique is the etching of 3D structures in silicon with a single plasma etch utilizing an effect known as reactive ion etch lag (RIE lag). Using this unique process, 3D devices are fabricated in both silicon and the polymer polydimenthylsiloxane (PDMS). Using both numerical modeling and experimental results, we show how these 3D structures enhance the performance of the dielectrophoretic devices. The main findings indicate that 3D structures can help reduce Joule heating in the devices and lower the applied voltage necessary to operate the devices. Additionally, within this work, we develop a new dielectrophoresis technique called off-chip passivated-electrode, insulator-based dielectrophoresis microchip (O"DEP). This technique combines the sensitivity of electrode-based dielectrophoresis (eDEP) with the high-throughput and inexpensive device characteristics of insulator-based dielectrophoresis. The result is a cartridge based system which is accessible, economical, high-performance, and high-throughput technologies allowing timely detection of pathogenic bacteria.
- Doctoral Dissertations