µArray + liquid handling    µContact + NIL

Easy-to-Use Microperfusion System


MicCell — Microscope Interface Components
The MicCell microfluidic system comes in a variety of designs, but the basic idea is always the same:
  • The system must be mechanically adapted to your microscope, using the work plate into which the assembled MicCell is inserted. Different versions for microscopes such as Zeiss, Olympus, Nikon etc. are available.
  • The microchannel system is assembled and held together in a metal plate, the MicCell support. There is one for each channel plate size.
  • We call the microfluidic system PDMS channel plate (CP). You can buy pre-cast channel plates of different size or better cast them yourself in a casting chamber. In the assembled MicCell, the threaded holes of the lid serve as standardized chip-to-world interface.
  • The channel plate is sealed by a coverslip (with or without electrodes) and mounted in the MicCell support, which is put in the work plate
  • The assembly is inverted in an upright microscope.
This is the minimal configuration of the flow cell. You can also add macrofluidic (syringe pumps, macrovalves etc. in a Fluid Processor) and microfluidic accessories (e.g. hydrogel valves, pressure sensors), plus control software options, plus versions for electrodes or customized solutions. The entire system is modular.

MicCell — Fluid Processor
The most reliable way to pump liquid through the channel(s) is by external syringe pumps. These pumps (with three-way-valves) and other macrofluidic switching devices, such as simple valves (2/2) or selector (turn) valves (one inlet, multiple outlets or vice versa), are built in various combinations. Controller(s) for hydrogel microfluidic valve(s) can also be part of the device.
Fluid Processors are driven by a GUI-based MicCell software for Windows, which controls all pumps and valves directly (interactive mode). Complex procedures can also be programmed by graphical means. Versions for various channel designs exist.

Channel Plates — Different Size, Different Features
Different sizes and layouts of the MicCell channel plate are available. Standard off-theshelf sizes are:
  • 22 mm x 22 mm (normal coverslip)
  • 22 mm x 50 mm (large coverslip)
  • 25 mm x 75 mm (slide size)
Different sizes allow for different numbers of inlet and outlet ports. The 22x22 channel plate, for instance, normally has two inlets and two outlets; so to fit this design, a single channel has an S-shape. You can get other setups, too.
The channel layout is defined by the silicon master, i.e. by you. Available are a collection of masters that fit on a 4-inch (10 cm) wafer. The silicon masters are deep etched (reactive ion etching, Bosch process) and can have different resolutions (25 µm with photo-emulsion mask, or 2 µm with chrome mask). They are always coated with PTFE (Teflon) for easy demoulding.
If you own a casting station, you can make your own channel plate. If not, you can order pre-cast channel plates for immediate use. The PC body is recycled, thus reducing costs.
Channel plates from other materials (e.g. glass only) and with electrodes exist.

MicCell — Casting Stations
Ordering and recycling pre-cast channel plates is cumbersome. You can reach much higher flexibility by making your own gels in the GESIM casting chambers:
  • The silicon master lies under the PDMS gel. So the order of assembly is: first the holder for the master (“calotte”), then the master, then the Teflon case, then the polycarbonate lid for the channel plate (“PC body”, as it is from polycarbonate), all fixed together by screws
  • As liquid must pass through the PDMS layer to reach the channel, holes must be created using channel spacers. These look like regular fittings, but have pins that are pressed against the master via springs.
  • A mixture of silicone elastomer base and curing agent (crosslinker) is prepared, degassed, and injected into the gap between PC body and master
  • After curing, the channel plate (PC body with PDMS) is taken out and channel spacers and PDMS burs removed. The lid (also called “body”) stays on and is used in the microscope as chip-to-world interface.
  • A coverslip is added and the stack fixed in the MicCell support by screws. The coverslip is pressed against the PDMS via springs and so the channel is tight. Finally, the MicCell support is inserted into the work plate sitting in your microscope and the tubes and other accessories connected to the MicCell.
We recommend to purchase enough PC bodies so that you can cast a new PDMS-CP while other ones are in use.
Accessories can be hydrogel microvalves (see below), connectors for heaters, sensors, and microelectrodes, a “sample carrier” to observe opaque objects, to name a few.

Click image to expand view

Versatile, modular, expandable perfusion system with microchannels made of polymer, glass or silicon | All peripherals (i.e. pumps, tubes, fittings) are reused, making it extremely easy and cost-effective

Casting of the PDMS channel plate (left), by which the master structures produce channels in the PDMS, and its use as flow cell (right). Note that the holes in the PDMS must be held open by the channel spacers, which are replaced by regular fittings in the final MicCell.

A070-600 Work plates for inverted microscope (standard design)

A070-610 Customized MicCell design for upright microscopes

A040-018 MicCell support for 22x22 mm2 coverslips

A040-026 MicCell support 25x75 mm

A040-019 MicCell support with PCB for electrodes and electrical connector

A040-114 PEEK fluid connectors to connect silicone tubes

A040-054 Casting chamber 22x22, completely assembled, including channel spacers

A040-057 Casting chamber 25x75, completely assembled, including channel spacers

A040-020 Aluminium calotte 22x22 for casting chamber, holds the silicon master in the casting station

A040-026 Aluminium calotte 25x75 for casting chamber

A040-026 Aluminium calotte 25x75 for casting chamber

A040-054, -514, -519 Casting of a PDMS channel system using a 5 ml syringe and hypodermic needle (PDMS dispense tip)

A040-091 Channel spacer, 1.6 mm diameter, in UNF1/4-28 fitting, with a spring-loaded tip.. Create a hole in the PDMS layer during gel casting.

A040-091 Channel spacer, 1.6 mm diameter, in UNF1/4-28 fitting, with a spring-loaded tip.. Create a hole in the PDMS layer during gel casting.

A040-092 Stopper fitting, UNF 1/4-28

A040-662, -665 PDMS elastomer and curing agent for gel casting, plus syringes and mixing glass

A040-662, -665 PDMS elastomer and curing agent for gel casting, plus syringes and mixing glass

A040-512 Desiccator, small, to degas PDMS mixtures

A040-530 Desiccator, large, with N2/UV inlets

A040-106 Ready-to use PDMS-CP, 22x22 mm2, (curved) 3 mm S-channel, shown with tubes

A040-083, -107 The sample carrier can bring opaque objects (up to 2.5x2.5 mm2) into the flow channel; the sample must be illuminated from the objective side. The specimen can be rotated by 360. Picture left, principle; centre, sample carrier outside channel with silicon samples; right: sample carrier screwed into its special 22x22 MicCell PC body. Please inquire for more information or other configurations.

A040-083, -107 The sample carrier can bring opaque objects (up to 2.5x2.5 mm2) into the flow channel; the sample must be illuminated from the objective side. The specimen can be rotated by 360. Picture left, principle; centre, sample carrier outside channel with silicon samples; right: sample carrier screwed into its special 22x22 MicCell PC body. Please inquire for more information or other configurations.

A040-540 UNF1/4-28 fitting with Au contact

A040-541 UNF1/4-28 fitting with Ag/AgCl contact

A040-542 Pressure sensor fitting, UNF1/4-28

A040-106, -108 MicCell CPs 22x22 and 22x50 in comparison, each mounted in its support. New and recycled CPs look the same.

A040-106, -108 MicCell CPs 22x22 and 22x50 in comparison, each mounted in its support. New and recycled CPs look the same.

A040-115 PDMS channel plate 25x75 (slide size), in MicCell support; here with 3 inlets and 1 outlet

A040-112 PDMS CP 22x22 with four inlet electrodes, in MicCell support

A040-109 PC body (lid) for PDMS-CP 22x22

A040-025 PC body (lid) for PDMS-CP 25x75

A040-056 Glass-glass channel plate; microelectrodes on both sides of channel, wire-bonded PCBs

A040-080 HGV-PV5, complete microvalve in PEEK housing, with UNF1_4-28 tapped holes

A040-510 HGV PV5, naked chip. Note the meandering Pt heater in the middle of the channel.

A040-081 HGV PV6, complete valve housed in PEEK fitting (UNF1/4-28) with tube connection

A040-100 Hydrogel valve PV6 complete microvalve housed in PEEK injector fitting UNF1/4-28

A040-101 Hydrogel valve PV6, naked chip with electrical socket

A040-101 Hydrogel valve PV6, naked chip with electrical socket

A040-81, -100 HGV PV6 in UNF fitting. Left, injector for manual sample addition via microfunnel; right, sample injection through tube

A040-81, -100 HGV PV6 in UNF fitting. Left, injector for manual sample addition via microfunnel; right, sample injection through tube

A040-550, -551 Sample injection into T-channel. The main flow is stopped; then the HGV (red inlet) opens and the sample is sucked in. The extra K-channel (white outlet) can flush the dead volume between HGV and T-junction

A040-550, -551 Sample injection into T-channel. The main flow is stopped; then the HGV (red inlet) opens and the sample is sucked in. The extra K-channel (white outlet) can flush the dead volume between HGV and T-junction

A040-550 22x22 master, K-channel design

A040-551 22x22 master, T-channel design

A040-552 PDMS-CP with attached coverslip, moulded from a master with 2Y channel design

A040-554 25x75 master, T-channel, in aluminium calotte

A070-089 MicCell software, S-T-K project, here with two dilutors and a hydrogel valve. It can control, interactively and programmable, a simple S-channel, a T-channel with two inlets, or a K-channel that allows to clean the branch downstream of the hydrogel valve. Different flow configurations are selected by the buttons on the left.

A070-097 FC1 software for the control of six dilutors and two selector valves. No special channel design is associated with this software.

MicCell (here: 22 mm x 22 mm) in an inverted microscope, consisting of the work plate, the support, the channel plate (with lid), and tubes with fittings. This is the minimal configuration; further macrofluidic and microfluidic accessories can be added.

A070-008 Twin Fluid Processor. Two FP_3_3 systems are part of the system. Six syringe pumps and six selector valves are assembled in two cases.

A050-007 Fluid Processor FP_1_1_HGV. From left to right: syringe pump with three-way valve, control unit for a hydrogel valve and a simple (2/2) macrovalve, four-channel selector (turn) valve.

A050-005 Fluid Processor FP_4_0 with four syringe pumps

A050-013 Fluid Processor FP_1_0 with one syringe pump

A040-033 Casting station for 22x22 PDMS-CP in a box, with all necessary accessories. Please note that casting chamber only means the Teflon/aluminium case in which the casting takes place, whereas the casting station (complete set) includes all accessories, as shown in the picture on the left.


Microvalves
For controlled injection of liquids into the channel, e.g. to start and stop reactions, a hydrogel microvalve (HGV, GESIM patent) with small dead volume is placed into the standard (UNF1/4-28) MicCell inlets. It contains hydrogel particles that dramatically shrink (dehydrate) above 34 °C, thus opening the valve. In the primarily used PV6 HGV, liquid passes through holes etched into the actuator chamber.
A turn valve with PDMS rotor (A040-155) is also available; please ask for details.

MicCell — Masters for PDMS Channel Plate
Available are a library of channel designs from which you can choose. In this case no charges for a master are necessary. Of course customized designs are possible, please inquire.
All masters are deep reaction ion etched on a 10 cm (4”) silicon wafer, teflonised for better demoulding, and cut for immediate use.
It is possible to make customized designs on a 4-inch wafer, so you can put as many different masters on a wafer as fit on it