Nanochannel fabrication using thermo-mechanical deformation of thermoplastics
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Nanofluidics has been a major field of research for application in areas like single molecule detection. Most of the research efforts have been concentrated in developing novel nanochannel fabrication techniques. Most of these fabrication techniques developed are either expensive or time consuming. A novel, low-cost fabrication technique to generate sub-micrometer wide channels in thermoplastic chips with potential application in single molecule detection is demonstrated. This nanochannel fabrication technique is based on thermo-mechanical deformation of a section of microchannel in thermoplastic chip to nanometer dimensions. A custom, mechanical rig was designed, fabricated and optimized to produce a pre-defined thermo-mechanical deformation in thermo-plastic microchannel chips. Rectangular microchannels with different shapes and sizes were deformed using this rig to optimize the initial microchannel dimensions. Low aspect ratio (height:width) channels with smaller initial dimensions exhibit more potential to reach sub-micrometer widths. However, the nanochannel fabrication consistency was adversely affected by manufacturing and assembly tolerances.