During my internship, I worked on optimizing multiple different projects that the high school students would work on while in the MMSS Polymer Camp. One of the projects that I worked on focused on microfluidics using lithography. I started the microfluidics project on the very first day of my internship and was not able to completely tie up all the loose ends until about a week before the students came.
While working on the microfluidics lab, I encountered many obstacles. First, I started off trying to make a microfluidics chamber using a “Shrinky dink” design and using the ink printed on the Shrinky dink to pour PDMS, a polymer, and create a mold/microfluidics chamber with channels where dye could flow through.
After trying this method multiple times, I concluded that the Shrinky dinks simply did not provide large enough channels to create a proper mold for the microfluidics chamber. So, I tried using coffee stirs and skewer sticks to no avail. Next, I thought of the idea to use a hot glue gun to trace the mold using the hot glue and then pour the polymer over the hot glue to make the mold.
Thankfully, this was the perfect solution to the problem.
However, we ran into another problem, we tried to order more PDMS for the science camp two weeks into the internship. But, it was back-ordered and would not arrive in time for the camp. Therefore, we had to research an alternative polymer and finally settled on agar.
I was very happy and relieved once I was able to completely finish up the microfluidics lab as it was something I was working on tirelessly through trial and error throughout the internship. I enjoyed this project because it was a challenge for myself to find solutions to the multiple problems that popped up.