The application of micromechanics to biochemical instrumentation yields many improvements in size, efficiency, and power consumption. The microdevices have small volumes which are compatible with many biochemical reactions. With the addition of integrated sensors, fluid and solid pumps, and thermal resistive elements, these microdevices offer a low-power, portable alternative to macroscopic instruments.
This report describes the design, fabrication, and testing of a biochemical microflow systems. First, the microcomponents for microflow systems are assessed against macroscopic equivalent, and key instruments for system integration are identified. Next, the bio-compatibility of the system is evaluated by constructing a prototype system, and applying it to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The prototype system shows no interference with biochemistry, and accelerates the PCR reaction by over 3 times while consuming a fraction of the power of conventional instruments. Temperature rise and fall-times of over 40degC/sec were measured, and are on the same order as the fastest reported thermocyclers.
Designs for system integration is addressed. A wafer-bonding microfabrication process for biochemical microflow systems is developed. Process development includes evaluation of bonding technologies for VLSI thin films, and large-area micromachining techniques. The fabrication process is used to fabricate pl-size reaction chambers with membrane isolation, ultra-shallow surface channels, and focusing ultrasonic transducers. The developed microfabrication process is scalable, and allows fabrication of high-aspect ratio structures.