Multi-depth valved microfluidics for biofilm segmentation Academic Article uri icon


  • Bacterial biofilms present a societal challenge, as they occur in the majority of infections but are highly resistant to both immune mechanisms and traditional antibiotics. In the pursuit of better understanding biofilm biology for developing new treatments, there is a need for streamlined, controlled platforms for biofilm growth and evaluation. We leverage advantages of microfluidics to develop a system in which biofilms are formed and sectioned, allowing parallel assays on multiple sections of one biofilm. A microfluidic testbed with multiple depth profiles was developed to accommodate biofilm growth and sectioning by hydraulically actuated valves. In realization of the platform, a novel fabrication technique was developed for creating multi-depth microfluidic molds using sequentially patterned photoresist separated and passivated by conformal coatings using atomic layer deposition. Biofilm thickness variation within three separately tested devices was less than 13% of the average thickness in each device, while variation between devices was 23% of the average thickness. In a demonstration of parallel experiments performed on one biofilm within one device, integrated valves were used to trisect the uniform biofilms with one section maintained as a control, and two sections exposed to different concentrations of sodium dodecyl sulfate. The technology presented here for multi-depth microchannel fabrication can be used to create a host of microfluidic devices with diverse architectures. While this work focuses on one application of such a device in biofilm sectioning for parallel experimentation, the tailored architectures enabled by the fabrication technology can be used to create devices that provide new biological information.

publication date

  • January 1, 2015