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The influence of electrolyte concentration on nanofractures fabricated in a 3D-printed microfluidic device by controlled dielectric breakdown

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 19:10 authored by Md Fokhrul Islam, Ying YapYing Yap, Li, F, Guijt, RM, Michael BreadmoreMichael Breadmore
A three-dimensional-printed microfluidic device made of a thermoplastic material was used to study the creation of molecular filters by controlled dielectric breakdown. The device was made from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene by a fused deposition modeling three-dimensional printer and consisted of two V-shaped sample compartments separated by 750 µm of extruded plastic gap. Nanofractures were formed in the thin piece of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene by controlled dielectric breakdown by application voltage of 15-20 kV with the voltage terminated when reaching a defined current threshold. Variation of the size of the nanofractures was achieved by both variation of the current threshold and by variation of the ionic strength of the electrolyte used for breakdown. Electrophoretic transport of two proteins, R-phycoerythrin (RPE; <10 nm in size) and fluorescamine-labeled BSA (f-BSA; 2-4 nm), was used to monitor the size and transport properties of the nanofractures. Using 1 mM phosphate buffer, both RPE and f-BSA passed through the nanofractures when the current threshold was set to 25 µA. However, when the threshold was lowered to 10 µA or lower, RPE was restricted from moving through the nanofractures. When we increased the electrolyte concentration during breakdown from 1 to 10 mM phosphate buffer, BSA passed but RPE was blocked when the threshold was equal to, or lower than, 25 µA. This demonstrates that nanofracture size (pore area) is directly related to the breakdown current threshold but inversely related to the concentration of the electrolyte used for the breakdown process.


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School of Natural Sciences


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