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Characterization of Tensioned PDMS Membranes for Imaging Cytometry on Microraft Arrays

DiSalvo, Matthew, Harris, Daniel M., Kantesaria, Saurin, Peña, Alexis N., Allbritton-King, Jules D., Cole, Jacqueline H., Allbritton, Nancy L.
Analytical chemistry 2018 v.90 no.7 pp. 4792-4800
automation, deformation, fluorescence, image analysis, linear models, microarray technology, microscopy, polydimethylsiloxane, prediction, temperature
Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) membranes can act as sensing elements, barriers, and substrates, yet the low rigidity of the elastomeric membranes can limit their practical use in devices. Microraft arrays rely on a freestanding PDMS membrane as a substrate for cell arrays used in imaging cytometry and cellular isolation. However, the underlying PDMS membrane deforms under the weight of the cell media, making automated analytical microscopy (and thus cytometry and cell isolation) challenging. Here we report the development of microfabrication strategies and physically motivated mathematical modeling of membrane deformation of PDMS microarrays. Microraft arrays were fabricated with mechanical tension stored within the PDMS substrate. These membranes deformed 20× less than that of arrays fabricated using prior methods. Modeling of the deformation of pretensioned arrays using linear membrane theory yielded ≤15% error in predicting the array deflection and predicted the impact of cure temperatures up to 120 °C. A mathematical approach was developed to fit models of microraft shape to sparse real-world shape measurements. Automated imaging of cells on pretensioned microarrays using the focal planes predicted by the model produced high quality fluorescence images of cells, enabling accurate cell area quantification (<4% error) at increased speed (13×) relative to conventional methods. Our microfabrication method and simplified, linear modeling approach is readily applicable to control the deformation of similar membranes in MEMs devices, sensors, and microfluidics.