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Homebrew Photolithography for the Rapid and Low-Cost, "Do It Yourself" Prototyping of Microfluidic Devices

Lookup NU author(s): Daniel Todd, Professor Natalio KrasnogorORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2023 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society. Photolithography is the foundational process at the root of micro-electromechanical (MEMS) and microfluidic systems manufacture. The process is descendant from the semiconductor industry, originating from printed circuit board and microprocessor fabrication, itself historically performed in a cleanroom environment utilizing expensive, specialist microfabrication equipment. Consequently, these conditions prove cost-prohibitive and pose a large barrier to entry. We present a novel homebrew, “do-it-yourself” method for performing photolithography to produce master mold wafers using only household appliances and homemade equipment at the bench side, outside of a cleanroom, producing a range of designs including spiral, serpentine, rectangular, and circulatory. Our homebrew processes result in the production of microfluidic channels with feature resolution of ∼85 μm width and 50 μm height utilizing inkjet-printed photomasks on transparency film to expose dry-film photoresist. From start to finish, the entire process takes under <90 min and costs <£300. With SU8 epoxy negative photoresist and a chrome photomask, our low-cost UV exposure apparatus and homemade spincoater could be used to produce PDMS devices containing large arrays of identical microwells measuring 4.4 μm in diameter. We show that our homebrew method produces both rectangular and spiral microfluidic channels with better results than can be achieved by SLA 3D printing by comparison, and amenable to bonding into multilayer functional microfluidic devices. As these methods are fundamental to microfluidics manufacture, we envision that this work will be of value to researchers across a broad range of disciplines, such as those working in resource-constrained countries or conditions, with many and widely varying applications.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Todd D, Krasnogor N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: ACS Omega

Year: 2023

Volume: 8

Issue: 38

Pages: 35393-35409

Print publication date: 26/09/2023

Online publication date: 15/09/2023

Acceptance date: 31/08/2023

Date deposited: 08/11/2023

ISSN (electronic): 2470-1343

Publisher: American Chemical Society


DOI: 10.1021/acsomega.3c05544


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Funder referenceFunder name
Royal Academy of Engineering