The recent rise of high-pressure applications in microfluidics has led to the development of different types of pressure-resistant microfluidic chips. For the most part, however, the fabrication methods require clean room facilities, as well as specific equipment and expertise. Furthermore, the resulting microfluidic chips are not always well suited to flow visualization and optical measurements. Herein, we present a method that allows rapid and inexpensive prototyping of optically transparent microfluidic chips that resist pressures of at least 200 bar.
The fabrication method is based on UV-curable off-stoichiometry thiol-ene epoxy (OSTE+) polymer, which is chemically bonded to glass. The reliability of the device was verified by pressure tests using CO2, showing resistance without failure up to at least 200 bar at ambient temperature. The microchips also resisted operation at high pressure for several hours at a temperature of 40 °C.
These results show that the polymer structure and the chemical bond with the glass are not affected by high-pressure CO2. Opportunities for flow visualization are illustrated by high-pressure two-phase flow shadowgraphy experiments. These microfluidic chips are of specific interest for use with supercritical CO2 and for optical characterization of phase transitions and multiphase flow under near-critical and critical CO2 conditions. © 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.