2009/12/26

Milli (Vanilli) Fluidics

I'm working on some experiments with algae (while we rush to publication - lest we get scooped - ugh!) that require quickly isolating a few and stimulating them with a grab bag of chemicals.  I have microfluidic devices specifically designed for other purposes, but shoe horning them into this experiment will probably be a project in and of itself.

I've made "poorman's" microfluidics by cutting pieces of scotch tape on glass slides and casting PDMS against it. However, the cells I'm working with are small and motile enough to make anything created this way totally inadequate.  Besides, I'm a bit worried that the random organics in PDMS (and Scotch tape adhesive) can throw off my cellular response.

So here's what I want to test - an agar/agarose pad with a groove patterned it in connected to a Laplace pressure pump.  More specifics:
  • I can make a dozen of these pads (at least ones without a groove) in about an hour
  • To make the groove I need to pattern the slide I use to 'flatten' the pad
  • The Laplace pump will be made with a coverslip with a tiny hole in it that:
    • I place a drop of stimulant over
    • will be far away from where I image cells
    • needs to be aligned to the groove in the pad
Will this work?  Off to the drawing board!