Toppan in Japan developed technology to manufacture glass microfluidic chips using photolithography on large panels.
Mass production of microfluidic chips using the technology will make it possible to produce chips in larger volumes and at lower cost than those manufactured via current injection molding technology, which involves injecting polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a type of silicone resin, into a metal mold.
Microfluidic chips manufactured by this technology are expected to be used in the fields of in-vitro diagnostics and liquid biopsy (a largely non-invasive diagnostic technology requiring only a small amount of blood or other fluid sample), which is expected to see high levels of demand for applications including cancer diagnosis and clinical testing.
The microfabrication technology is based on photolithography techniques cultivated in the manufacture of LCD colour filters. Channels varying from 10 microns wide to several millimetres and a depth of one to 50 microns are formed on a large glass panel coated with photoresistitive material. A cover with openings for injecting fluid samples or specimens is then applied over the cured photoresist. Microfluidic chips manufactured using this method have properties that are equivalent or superior to those of PDMS chips and can enable production in larger volumes and at lower cost.
“We have applied Toppan’s advanced microfabrication techniques to potentially enable mass production of something that can drive widespread use of medical testing techniques that reduce the burden on patients,” said Yuichiro Abe, manager of Development Planning in Toppan’s Electronics Division. “We will continue to work with our collaborative partners on pilot testing for commercialization of glass microfluidic chips and hope to establish photolithography-based mass production technology by March 2022.”
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