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Stainless steel pinholes for fast fabrication of high-performance microchip electrophoresis devices by CO2 laser ablation

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 21:25 authored by Ying YapYing Yap, Rosanne Guijt, Tracey DicksonTracey Dickson, Anna KingAnna King, Michael BreadmoreMichael Breadmore
With the introduction of hobby laser engravers/cutters, the use of CO2 laser micromachining on poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) has the potential for flexible, low cost, rapid prototyping of microfluidic devices. Unfortunately, the feature size created by most entry-level CO2 laser micromachining systems is too large to become a functional tool in analytical microfluidics. In this paper, we report a novel method to reduce the feature size of microchannels and the bulges formed at the rim of the channel during CO2 laser micromachining by passing the laser beam through a stainless steel pinhole. Without the pinhole, the channel width was typically 300 μm wide. However, when 50 or 35 μm diameter pinholes were used, channel widths of 60 and 25 μm, respectively, could be obtained. The height of the bulge deposited directly next to the channel was reduced to less than 0.8 μm with the pinhole during ablation. Separations of fluorescent dyes on devices ablated with and without the pinhole were compared. On devices fabricated with the pinhole, the number of theoretical plates/m was 2.2-fold higher compared to devices fabricated without the pinhole, and efficiencies comparable to embossed PMMA and laser ablated glass chips were obtained. A mass-produced commercial hobby laser (retailing at ~$2500), when equipped with a $500 pinhole, represents a rapid and low-cost approach to the rapid fabrication of rigid plastic microchips including the narrow microchannels required for microchip electrophoresis.


Publication title

Analytical Chemistry










School of Natural Sciences


Amer Chemical Soc

Place of publication

1155 16Th St, Nw, Washington, USA, Dc, 20036

Rights statement

Copyright 2013 American Chemical Society

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Fabricated metal products not elsewhere classified

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