Deybith Venegas-Rojas


2 Nanofluidic Cell for Resolution Improvement of Liquid Transmission Electron Microscopy

Authors: Deybith Venegas-Rojas, Sercan Keskin, Svenja Riekeberg, Sana Azim, Stephanie Manz, R. J. Dwayne Miller, Hoc Khiem Trieu


Liquid Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) is a growing area with a broad range of applications from physics and chemistry to material engineering and biology, in which it is possible to image in-situ unseen phenomena. For this, a nanofluidic device is used to insert the nanoflow with the sample inside the microscope in order to keep the liquid encapsulated because of the high vacuum. In the last years, Si3N4 windows have been widely used because of its mechanical stability and low imaging contrast. Nevertheless, the pressure difference between the inside fluid and the outside vacuum in the TEM generates bulging in the windows. This increases the imaged fluid volume, which decreases the signal to noise ratio (SNR), limiting the achievable spatial resolution. With the proposed device, the membrane is fortified with a microstructure capable of stand higher pressure differences, and almost removing completely the bulging. A theoretical study is presented with Finite Element Method (FEM) simulations which provide a deep understanding of the membrane mechanical conditions and proves the effectiveness of this novel concept. Bulging and von Mises Stress were studied for different membrane dimensions, geometries, materials, and thicknesses. The microfabrication of the device was made with a thin wafer coated with thin layers of SiO2 and Si3N4. After the lithography process, these layers were etched (reactive ion etching and buffered oxide etch (BOE) respectively). After that, the microstructure was etched (deep reactive ion etching). Then the back side SiO2 was etched (BOE) and the array of free-standing micro-windows was obtained. Additionally, a Pyrex wafer was patterned with windows, and inlets/outlets, and bonded (anodic bonding) to the Si side to facilitate the thin wafer handling. Later, a thin spacer is sputtered and patterned with microchannels and trenches to guide the nanoflow with the samples. This approach reduces considerably the common bulging problem of the window, improving the SNR, contrast and spatial resolution, increasing substantially the mechanical stability of the windows, allowing a larger viewing area. These developments lead to a wider range of applications of liquid TEM, expanding the spectrum of possible experiments in the field.

Keywords: Nanofluidics, Thin Films, liquid cell, liquid transmission electron microscopy, nanofluidic cell

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1 Shear Stress and Oxygen Concentration Manipulation in a Micropillars Microfluidic Bioreactor

Authors: Deybith Venegas-Rojas, Jens Budde, Dominik Nörz, Manfred Jücker, Hoc Khiem Trieu


Microfluidics is a promising approach for biomedicine cell culture experiments with microfluidic bioreactors (MBR), which can provide high precision in volume and time control over mass transport and microenvironments in small-scale studies. Nevertheless, shear stress and oxygen concentration are important factors that affect the microenvironment and then the cell culture. It is presented a novel MBR design in which differences in geometry, shear stress, and oxygen concentration were studied and optimized for cell culture. The aim is to mimic the in vivo condition with biocompatible materials and continuous perfusion of nutrients, a healthy shear stress, and oxygen concentration. The design consists of a capture system of PDMS micropillars which keep cells in place, so it is not necessary any hydrogel or complicated scaffolds for cells immobilization. Besides, the design allows continuous supply with nutrients or even any other chemical for cell experimentation. Finite element method simulations were used to study and optimize the effect of parameters such as flow rate, shear stress, oxygen concentration, micropillars shape, and dimensions. The micropillars device was fabricated with microsystem technology such as soft-lithography, deep reactive ion etching, self-assembled monolayer, replica molding, and oxygen plasma bonding. Eight different geometries were fabricated and tested, with different flow rates according to the simulations. During the experiments, it was observed the effect of micropillars size, shape, and configuration for stability and shear stress control when increasing flow rate. The device was tested with several successful HepG2 3D cell cultures. With this MBR, the aforementioned parameters can be controlled in order to keep a healthy microenvironment according to specific necessities of different cell types, with no need of hydrogels and can be used for a wide range of experiments with cells.

Keywords: Microfluidics, Cell Culture, shear stress, oxygen concentration, micro-bioreactor, micropillars

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