System and Method for High Density Assembly and Packaging of Micro-Reactors

Tech ID: 27662 / UC Case 2011-163-0

Brief Description

High density micro-reactors are fabricated to form an array of wells into a surface for use in high throughput microfluidic applications in biology and chemistry. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine developed a method for increasing micro-reactor densities per unit area using rapidly self-assembled three-dimensional crystalline formation droplet arrays, and a device for performing the same.

Full Description

High density micro-reactors are fabricated to form an array of wells into a surface for use in high throughput microfluidic applications in biology and chemistry. Densities of these micro-reactor wells are limited by pattern formation, yielding micro-reactors with limited well height to width ratio that are on a single planar surface. Thus, large useable area between micro-reactor wells is lost. There is a need to increase micro-reactor well density.

Increasing micro-reactor densities beyond a certain value using existing manufacturing techniques is prohibitive due to the limitations of manufacturability of high aspect ratios. Reducing reactor areas too small of a chip area in effort to increase density make it prohibitively difficult to maintain adequate imaging resolution. In the case of micro-reactor wells, it is also prohibitively difficult to fill each reactor given the dominant influence of surface tension at decreasing length scales.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine developed a method and device to increase micro-reactor density two to three fold by allowing partial overlap of micro-reactors. The method and device utilizes predictable and complementarily aligned droplet pattern formations that are easily generated on demand due to their natural self-assembly. This method reduces the manufacturing process demands ordinarily required to increase density, and does not require burdensome optical imaging setups. As long as the image capturing sensor can visualize all layers of the formation, each reactor can be quantifiably analyzed just as one would perform a standard micro-reactor well plate read using a slide scanner array, microscope image or other.

Suggested uses

The method and device are suited for monitoring fluorescence intensity values within individual droplets as well as other optical probing techniques where light can be transmitted from all reactor plans to the imaging plan. For example, the present method and device can be fine-tuned for optimal real-time and/or long-term 2D visualization and image capture of reactions occurring in the droplet micro-reactors.

Advantages

The primary advantage of the present method and device is that the density of reactor arrays per unit area are increased two or three fold. This process utilizes predictable and complementarily aligned droplet patter formations that are easily generated on demand due to their natural self-assembly. The pattern arrangement allows adequate image processing and resolution to distinguish the light intensity levels of all droplet reactors. The device and method can be tuned on demand while being generated or beforehand. Moreover, the method and device do not require complicated imaging techniques because they do not require a prohibitively large depth of field imaging setup.

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Published Application 20120184464 07/09/2012 2011-163
 

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