Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Biomedical Engineering


Biomedical and General Engineering


David Clague


This thesis encompasses a feasibility study of using low-cost materials to manufacture microfluidic chips that can perform the same functions as chips manufactured using traditional methods within an acceptable range of efficiency of chips created with more exotic methods and materials. The major parts of the project are the selection and characterization of the fabrication methods for creating the channels for fluid flow, the methods for sealing the channels to create a usable chip and the electrophoretic separations of carboxylated microspheres of different potentials. In this work we seek to answer the question if laser-etched PMMA microfluidic chips are comparable in functionality to microfluidic chips created with PDMS or glass. In the process of answering this question we will touch on FEA modeling, characterization of the manufacturing process and multiple prototype designs while keeping within the low-cost theme.

The purpose of capillary electrophoresis is to separate proteins based on their inherent electric charge. Capillary electrophoresis is a standard chip design used in the microfluidics world to prove a new fabrication method or chip material before branching out to other experiments because it is a fairly simple and robust design. Common problems associated with the manufacturing methods and materials were taken into account such as electroosmotic flow and chip sealing. CZE designs from literature were referenced to create a chip that would separate carboxylated microbeads with reasonable resolution. Wire electrodes were affixed to the chip to induce electric fields for the electrophoresis experiments. The goal of this thesis is to prove the manufacturing methods and attain results within 70% of literature standards.