Main content area

Open Microfluidic Capillary Systems

Berthier, Erwin, Dostie, Ashley M., Lee, Ulri N., Berthier, Jean, Theberge, Ashleigh B.
Analytical chemistry 2019 v.91 no.14 pp. 8739-8750
diagnostic techniques, geometry, injection molding, liquid-air interface, manufacturing, microfluidic technology, tissue scaffolds
Open microfluidic capillary systems are a rapidly evolving branch of microfluidics where fluids are manipulated by capillary forces in channels lacking physical walls on all sides. Typical channel geometries include grooves, rails, or beams and complex systems with multiple air–liquid interfaces. Removing channel walls allows access for retrieval (fluid sampling) and addition (pipetting reagents or adding objects like tissue scaffolds) at any point in the channel; the entire channel becomes a “device-to-world” interface, whereas such interfaces are limited to device inlets and outlets in traditional closed-channel microfluidics. Open microfluidic capillary systems are simple to fabricate and reliable to operate. Prototyping methods (e.g., 3D printing) and manufacturing methods (e.g., injection molding) can be used seamlessly, accelerating development. This Perspective highlights fundamentals of open microfluidic capillary systems including unique advantages, design considerations, fabrication methods, and analytical considerations for flow; device features that can be combined to create a “toolbox” for fluid manipulation; and applications in biology, diagnostics, chemistry, sensing, and biphasic applications.