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Surface-modified elastomeric nanofluidic devices for single nanoparticle trapping

Deepika Sharma, Roderick Y. H. Lim, Thomas Pfohl and Yasin Ekinci. Microsystems & Nanoengineering 7 (2021) 46

Our work focuses on the development of simpler and effective production of nanofluidic devices for high-throughput charged single nanoparticle trapping in an aqueous environment. Single nanoparticle confinement using electrostatic trapping has been an effective approach to study the fundamental properties of charged molecules under a controlled aqueous environment. Conventionally, geometry-induced electrostatic trapping devices are fabricated using SiOx-based substrates and comprise nanochannels imbedded with nanoindentations such as nanopockets, nanoslits and nanogrids. These geometry-induced electrostatic trapping devices can only trap negatively charged particles, and therefore, to trap positively charged particles, modification of the device surface is required. However, the surface modification process of a nanofluidic device is cumbersome and time consuming. Therefore, here, we present a novel approach for the development of surface-modified geometry-induced electrostatic trapping devices that reduces the surface modification time from nearly 5 days to just a few hours. We utilized polydimethylsiloxane for the development of a surface-modified geometry-induced electrostatic trapping device. To demonstrate the device efficiency and success of the surface modification procedure, a comparison study between a PDMS-based geometry-induced electrostatic trapping device and the surface-modified polydimethylsiloxane-based device was performed. The device surface was modified with two layers of polyelectrolytes (1: poly(ethyleneimine) and 2: poly(styrenesulfonate)), which led to an overall negatively charged surface. Our experiments revealed the presence of a homogeneous surface charge density inside the fluidic devices and equivalent trapping strengths for the surface-modified and native polydimethylsiloxane-based geometry-induced electrostatic trapping devices. This work paves the way towards broader use of geometry-induced electrostatic trapping devices in the fields of biosensing, disease diagnosis, molecular analysis, fluid quality control and pathogen detection.

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