PDMS and its limitations to microfluidic applications
One of the bottlenecks in the development of an organ-on-a-chip is the material that will be used for the chip. The most commonly used polymer is the so-called PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane). This material display very interesting properties such as biocompatibility, flexibility, and good mechanical properties, making it a standard in labs for microfluidics. Although PDMS is a very good and practical solution while a small number of units are needed, industrialization and scaling up steps are hard to handle with this polymer. Furthermore, PDMS is known to absorb small apolar molecules and to release them afterward, which is a big issue in a toxicological study context.
Fig 1: PDMS polymer microfluidic chip.
Alternative to PDMS: a new biocompatible polymer for microfluidics
A French research team has developed a new polymer that seems to solve the issues encountered with the PDMS. Indeed, the FlexdymTM Polymer solution is flexible, transparent and USP Class VI polymer biocompatible.
In addition, thanks to its fast and inexpensive micro structuration method, any microfluidic devices are fabricated in less than 1 minute. The fabrication process is easy since it can be performed using a hot embossing machine or very simple press equipment making it compatible with rapid manufacturing technology such as injection molding, roll-to-roll, etc.
Speaking about the mechanical properties of FlexdymTM Polymer the sealing of a microdevice can be achieved either on a simple hot plate and even at room temperature and sustains a liquid pressure of a couple of bars. In addition, Microdevices can be assembled and bonded easily without surface treatments and pressure loads either on glass, or other polymers.
All of these features make the FlexdymTM Polymer suitable for high throughput screening methods, fundamental research, prototyping of microfluidic device.
Fig 2: Biocompatible FlexDym polymer for microfluidics
For further information take a look at the following published paper (doi. 10.1039/C7LC00488E)