SU-8 can be patterned with high resolution, is flexible and tough. These characteristics qualify SU-8 as a material for making spotting pins for printing DNA and protein microarrays, and it can potentially replace the commonly used silicon and steel pins that are expensive, brittle in the case of silicon and can damage the substrate during the printing process. SU-8, however, accumulates large internal stress during fabrication and, as a consequence, thin and long SU-8 structures bend and coil up, which precludes using it for long, freestanding structures such as pins. Here we introduce (i) a novel fabrication process that allows the making of 30 mm long, straight spotting pins that feature (ii) a new design and surface chemistry treatments for better capillary flow control and more homogeneous spotting. A key innovation for the fabrication is a post-processing annealing step with slow temperature ramping and mechanical clamping between two identical substrates to minimize stress buildup and render it symmetric, respectively, which together yield a straight SU-8 structure. SU-8 pins fabricated using this process are compliant and resilient and can buckle without damage during printing. The pins comprise a novel flow stop valve for accurate metering of fluids, and their surface was chemically patterned to render the outside of the pin hydrophobic while the inside of the slit is hydrophilic, and the slit thus spontaneously fills when dipped into a solution while preventing droplet attachment on the outside. A single SU-8 pin was used to print 1392 protein spots in one run. SU-8 pins are inexpensive, straightforward to fabricate, robust and may be used as disposable pins for microarray fabrication. These pins serve as an illustration of the potential application of ultralow stress SU-8 for making freestanding microfabricated polymer microstructures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering