Modular microfluidics offer the opportunity to combine the precise fluid control, rapid sample processing, low sample and reagent volumes, and relatively lower cost of conventional microfluidics with the flexible reconfigurability needed to accommodate the requirements of target applications such as drug toxicity studies. However, combining the capabilities of fully adaptable modular microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) assembly with the simplicity of conventional microfluidic fabrication remains a challenge. A hybrid polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)-molding/photolithographic process is demonstrated to rapidly fabricate LEGO®
-like modular blocks. The blocks are created with different sizes that interlock via tongue-and-groove joints in the plane and stack via interference fits out of the plane. These miniature strong but reversible connections have a measured resistance to in-plane and out-of-plane forces of up to >6000× and >1000× the weight of the block itself, respectively. The LEGO®
-like interference fits enable O-ring-free microfluidic connections that withstand internal fluid pressures of >120 kPa. A single layer of blocks is assembled into LEGO®
-like cell culture plates, where the in vitro biocompatibility and drug toxicity to lung epithelial adenocarcinoma cells and hepatocellular carcinoma cells cultured in the modular microwells are measured. A double-layer block structure is then assembled so that a microchannel formed at the interface between layers connects two microwells. Breast tumor cells and hepatocytes cultured in the coupled wells demonstrate interwell migration as well as the simultaneous effects of a single drug on the two cell types.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited