In this paper, we evaluate the strategy of using self-assembled microbeads to build a robust and tunable membrane for free-flow zone electrophoresis in a PDMS microfluidic chip. To fabricate a porous membrane as a salt bridge for free-flow zone electrophoresis, we used silica or polystyrene microbeads between 3-6 μm in diameter and packed them inside a microchannel. After complete evaporation, we infiltrated the porous microbead structure with a positively or negatively charged hydrogel to modify its surface charge polarity. Using this device, we demonstrated binary sorting (separation of positive and negative species at a given pH) of peptides and dyes in standard buffer systems without using sheath flows. The sample loss during sorting could be minimized by using ion selectivity of hydrogel-infiltrated microbead membranes. Our fabrication method enables building a robust membrane for pressure-driven free-flow zone electrophoresis with tunable pore size as well as surface charge polarity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry