MICROFLUIDIC ASSAY PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT USING POROUS VOLUMETRIC DETECTION ELEMENTS FOR IMPEDEMETRIC AND OPTICAL SENSING
DeVoe, Don L
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Microfluidic technologies have great potential to help create automated, cost-effective, portable devices for rapid point of care (POC) diagnostics in diverse patient settings. Unfortunately commercialization is currently constrained by the materials, reagents, and instrumentation required and detection element performance. While most microfluidic studies utilize planar detection elements, this dissertation demonstrates the utility of porous volumetric detection elements to improve detection sensitivity and reduce assay times. Impedemetric immunoassays were performed utilizing silver enhanced gold nanoparticle immunoconjugates (AuIgGs) and porous polymer monolith or silica bead bed detection elements within a thermoplastic microchannel. For a direct assay with 10 µm spaced electrodes the detection limit was 0.13 fM AuIgG with a 3 log dynamic range. The same assay was performed with electrode spacing of 15, 40, and 100 µm with no significant difference between configurations. For a sandwich assay the detection limit was10 ng/mL with a 4 log dynamic range. While most impedemetric assays rely on expensive high resolution electrodes to enhance planar senor performance, this study demonstrates the employment of porous volumetric detection elements to achieve similar performance using lower resolution electrodes and shorter incubation times. Optical immunoassays were performed using porous volumetric capture elements perfused with refractive index matching solutions to limit light scattering and enhance signal. First, fluorescence signal enhancement was demonstrated with a porous polymer monolith within a silica capillary. Next, transmission enhancement of a direct assay was demonstrated by infusing aqueous sucrose solutions through silica bead beds with captured silver enhanced AuIgGs yielding a detection limit of 0.1 ng/mL and a 5 log dynamic range. Finally, ex situ functionalized porous silica monolith segments were integrated into thermoplastic channels for a reflectance based sandwich assay yielding a detection limit of 1 ng/mL and a 5 log dynamic range. The simple techniques for optical signal enhancement and ex situ element integration enable development of sensitive, multiplexed microfluidic sensors. Collectively the demonstrated experiments validate the use of porous volumetric detection elements to enhance impedemetric and optical microfluidic assays. The techniques rely on commercial reagents, materials compatible with manufacturing, and measurement instrumentation adaptable to POC diagnostics.