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High Tg polymeric materials for heated microfluidic systems
Many medical conditions are now diagnosed using microtechnologies, e.g. the presence of allergies using Phadia’s ImmunoCAP Rapid tests, but many serious afflictions that would benefit from quick diagnosis are still unavailable, e.g. sepsis (blood poisoning). To rapidly analyze bacteria or viruses in the blood stream PCR coupled with a DNA-assay is needed. Efforts are underway to miniaturize PCR via microfluidics, and Microsystem Technology, MST, at KTH is a key player in EU-projects aiming towards rapid sepsis tests (FP7: Intopsens, IMI: Rapp-ID).
The material most commonly used in research microfluidic devices is PDMS. For many applications, PDMS is not an optimal material, wherefore efforts are underway at MST to replace it with other thermoset polymers, e.g. Thiol-enes. For PCR, it is problematic to use most thiol-ene formulations due to Tg’s lower than 96°C, which is necessary for PCR cycling. Reports in the literature suggest that multifunctional norbornenes with multifunctional thiols have sufficient Tg’s, but the additional requirement of surface modifications to reduce non-specific binding of DNA may lower Tg’s too much.
Given all the advantages of thiol-enes, a successful project will contribute significantly to the Lab-on-a-chip field and open for novel devices that ultimately will benefit patients with sepsis.
The task in this diploma work is to; a) perform a literature study into high Tg thiol-enes; b) suggest monomers for high Tg formulations; c) synthesize these monomers at Fibre and Polymer Technology; and d) evaluate with DMA the mechanical properties. In addition, strategies to surface modify resulting polymers in a secondary process will be discussed with MST, and preliminary tests of non-specific binding will be performed on modified thiol-ene polymer surfaces. If time permits, the results obtained will be used to fabricate microfluidic devices at MST for evaluation of fluidics at elevated temperature utilizing in-house PCR-cycling set-ups and results will be monitored using in-house instruments.
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