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Synthetic microfluidic paper and lateral flow devices

Lateral flow diagnostic devices, such as dipstick tests, are widely used at home and in the healthcare sector. The best known example is probably the pregnancy test, where a simple colorimetric change differentiates a positive from a negative sample. Lateral flow tests are easy to use and relatively cheap to manufacture, hence they are an attractive diagnostic format. Unfortunately, they only provide qualitative results (yes or no) ; variability in the device manufacturing and in the clinical sample properties makes it hard to make quantitative lateral flow devices.

The research in our team focuses on reducing the variability, with the aim to enable quantitative tests in the future. In terms of materials, we have developed synthetic microfluidic paper, which is a porous, paper-like, material made out of OSTE polymer. This material has a long range of properties that make it attractive for lateral flow devices, including transparency, full control of the paper microstructure, and anchors for covalent binding of target receptors.

Synthetic microfluidic paper, made out of OSTE polymer.

In terms of reducing clinical sample variability, we work towards making capillary pumps that have a constant flow rate that is independent of the fluidic properties of the sample. We derived the capillary geometry that provides constant flow rate, as well as capillary designs that provide a constant flow rate independent of sample viscosity and sample surface energy.



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