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Design and Microfabrication of Robust and Highly Integrated Thermal Lab-On-A-Chip Polymeric Systems for Genetic Diagnosis Open Access


Other title
Thin films
Microelectromechanical Systems
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Martinez-Quijada, Jose
Supervisor and department
Backhouse, Christopher (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Marquez, Horacio (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Marquez, Horacio (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Dubljevic, Stevan (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Parameswaran, Ash (Simon Fraser University)
Reformat, Marek (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Backhouse, Christopher (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Duncan, Elliott (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Microsystems and Nanodevices
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
The lab-on-chip (LOC) technology could transform and greatly enhance the health care system by making genetic diagnosis tests fast, accurate and readily accessible. However, most LOC systems are not prepared to resist variations of their external environment, as they depend upon many uncontrollable boundary variables. This dependence causes alterations of the temperature profile of the system. In critical applications that require precise temperature control, such as genetic diagnosis for disease detection, or in portable devices in which adequate thermal isolation is difficult to provide, those alterations degrade the reliability of the system. Expensive infrastructure is then required to maintain repeatable external conditions. Moreover, costly and invasive calibration methods are required to estimate the true temperature in the system. These challenges prevent the cost-effective manufacture of LOC systems. We have developed a new thermal control technology to produce manufacturable LOC systems. In this approach, the system depends upon a single dominant external variable that can be easily controlled, making the system robust to all other external variables. Operation in uncontrolled environments with minimum infrastructure is then feasible. With this concept we built a LOC system for genetic amplification in a new polymer chip architecture. In this system a thin film heater that is also a sensor is highly integrated to the reaction chamber. This integration plus the homogeneous temperature provided by the heater results in unusual temperature sensing accuracy, and a greatly simplified calibration process. By keeping tight microfabrication tolerances, the repeatability of the system is further ensured, eliminating per-device calibration. Reducing the complexity and cost of calibration to this level allows for mass production of ready-to-use, affordable devices. Other technologies that support our robust control approach were also developed, including an automated method to precisely distribute heat in the system space. This method enabled the use of aluminum for the fabrication of planar heaters/sensors, replacing expensive metals that are commonly used. The use of aluminum makes our technology CMOS-compatible. CMOS integration will enable a fully contained system that could be packaged in a USB key and cost a few dollars. Such a system would certainly revolutionize the practice of Medicine.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
J. Martinez-Quijada, S. Caverhill-Godkewitsch, M. Reynolds, L. Gutierrez-Rivera, R. W. Johnstone, D. G. Elliott, D. Sameoto, and C. J. Backhouse, “Fabrication and Characterization of Aluminum Thin Film Heaters and Temperature Sensors on a Photopolymer for Lab-On-Chip Systems,” Sensors and Actuators A: Physical, vol. 193, pp. 170–181, Apr. 2013.L. Gutierrez-Rivera, J. Martinez-Quijada, R. Johnstone, D. Elliott, C. Backhouse, and D. Sameoto, “Multilayer Bonding Using a Conformal Adsorbate Film (CAF) for the Fabrication of 3D Monolithic Microfluidic Devices in Photopolymer,” Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, vol. 22, no. 8, p. 085018 (12 pp.), Aug. 2012.

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