Microfluidics have recently garnered considerable interest due to their unique benefits over conventional liquid handling systems and the tools they provide towards the development of lab-on-a-chip devices and organ-on-a-chip systems. Irrespectively of the specific application, the surface properties of microfluidic channels have to be carefully engineered to render them biocompatible and/or antifouling, customize their wettability or provide anchoring points for biomolecule tethering. Despite the significant progress made, surface (bio) functionalization remains a hard-to-navigate step in the fabrication process of microfluidics-based devices, as modification strategies are not only dependent on the basal material but also difficult to scale up at a low cost. Herein, an altogether different approach towards surface functionalization is presented that is based on the established toolbox of catechol-containing molecules as well as on the largely unexplored chemistry of aryl diazonium salts, both of which allow the highly specific yet universal, material-independent tailoring of the properties of microfluidic channels. The versatility of both chemical modification routes, developed within the H2020 NextGenMicrofluidics project, is showcased through their implementation into four different projects with distinct requirements, undertaken within the context of the Microfluidics Innovation Hub, a Single Entry Point where surface functionalization of microfluidics devices is offered as a service.
George Tsekenis, Head of Applied Biophysics and Surface Science Laboratory, Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens (BRFAA)
Dr. George Tsekenis, a biochemist and geneticist by training (University of Nottingham, 2004), since his PhD studies (University of Cranfield, 2008) has been working on the development of innovative biochemical assays and surface functionalization techniques for biosensors and lab-on-a-chip devices. He currently heads the Applied Biophysics and Surface Science Laboratory at the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens, whose research focuses on the development of aptamers and aptasensors as well as on the applications of material-independent surface chemistries in microfluidics and PoN/PoC platforms. He has participated/led 12 European and nationally-funded projects and he is the author of 39 publications in high-impact scientific journals.
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