Date of Award

Summer 2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering - (Ph.D.)

Department

Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Raquel Perez-Castillejos

Second Advisor

Durgamadhab Misra

Third Advisor

Haim Grebel

Fourth Advisor

Marek Sosnowski

Fifth Advisor

Cheul H. Cho

Abstract

Electroporation is a widely used process in cell biology studies. It uses an electric field to create pores on the cell membrane in order to either insert exogenous molecules inside the cells or disrupt the cell membrane to kill the cells. Current micro-fluidic electroporation devices use the planar electrodes situated at the bottom of a microchannel. These planar electrodes i) require a high voltage and ii) generate a nonuniform electric field which result in low yield of the electroporation. The standard silicon microfabrication technologies are not suitable to fabricate non-planar electrodes required to increase the yield of electroporation.

In this research, an electroporation device is fabricated with an array of five pairs of three dimensional (3D) electrodes situated along the sidewalls of a microchannel. These 3D electrodes are fabricated by filling the molten indium inside the chosen microchannels. The indium filling method allows the fabrication of microstructures with planar dimensions larger than ~30 µm regardless of their height, integrated into the PDMS device. The selective electroporation of fibroblast cells is successfully demonstrated using a fabricated device by applying a low voltage (1.67 V). The uniform electric field generated in cross sections of microchannel by 3D electrodes will avoid the limitations of planar electrodes by i) preventing cell death due to an excessive electric field and ii) preventing lack of electroporation due to a low electric field. As a result, these 3D electrodes should be capable of increasing the yield of electroporation.

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