The microscopy cell (MicCell), a versatile modular flowthrough system for cell biology, biomaterial research, and nanotechnology
F.-U. Gast, P.S. Dittrich, P. Schwille, M. Weigel, M. Mertig, J. Opitz, U. Queitsch, S. Diez, B. Lincoln, F. Wottawah, S. Schinkinger, J. Guck, J. Käs, J. Smolinski, K. Salchert, C. Werner, C. Duschl, M. S. Jäger, K. Uhlig, P. Geggier, S. Howitz
Microfluidics and Nanofluidics 2, 21 (2006)
We describe a novel microfluidic perfusion system for high-resolution microscopes. Its modular design allows pre-coating of the coverslip surface with reagents, biomolecules, or cells. A poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) layer is cast in a special molding station, using masters made by photolithography and dry etching of silicon or by photoresist patterning on glass or silicon. This channel system can be reused while the coverslip is exchanged between experiments. As normal fluidic connectors are used, the link to external, computer-programmable syringe pumps is standardized and various fluidic channel networks can be used in the same setup. The system can house hydrogel microvalves and microelectrodes close to the imaging area to control the influx of reaction partners. We present a range of applications, including single-molecule analysis by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), manipulation of single molecules for nanostructuring by hydrodynamic flow fields or the action of motor proteins, generation of concentration gradients, trapping and stretching of live cells using optical fibers precisely mounted in the PDMS layer, and the integration of microelectrodes for actuation and sensing.