Simple Surface Modification of Poly(dimethylsiloxane) via Surface Segregating Smart Polymers for Biomicrofluidics

Gokaltun A. , Kang Y. B. (. , Yarmush M. L. , Usta O. B. , Asatekin A.

SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, vol.9, 2019 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 9
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1038/s41598-019-43625-5
  • Title of Journal : SCIENTIFIC REPORTS


Poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) is likely the most popular material for microfluidic devices in lab-on-a-chip and other biomedical applications. However, the hydrophobicity of PDMS leads to non-specific adsorption of proteins and other molecules such as therapeutic drugs, limiting its broader use. Here, we introduce a simple method for preparing PDMS materials to improve hydrophilicity and decrease non-specific protein adsorption while retaining cellular biocompatibility, transparency, and good mechanical properties without the need for any post-cure surface treatment. This approach utilizes smart copolymers comprised of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) and PDMS segments (PDMS-PEG) that, when blended with PDMS during device manufacture, spontaneously segregate to surfaces in contact with aqueous solutions and reduce the hydrophobicity without any added manufacturing steps. PDMS-PEG-modified PDMS samples showed contact angles as low as 23.6 degrees +/- 1 degrees and retained this hydrophilicity for at least twenty months. Their improved wettability was confirmed using capillary flow experiments. Modified devices exhibited considerably reduced non-specific adsorption of albumin, lysozyme, and immunoglobulin G. The modified PDMS was biocompatible, displaying no adverse effects when used in a simple liver-on-a-chip model using primary rat hepatocytes. This PDMS modification method can be further applied in analytical separations, biosensing, cell studies, and drug-related studies.