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Langmuir. 2007 May 22;23(11):6391-5. Epub 2007 Apr 19.

Size-Exclusion "capture and release" separations using surface-patterned poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) hydrogels.

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  • 1Departments of Electrical Engineering (ENB 118), Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENB 118), Physics (PHY 114), and Chemical Engineering (ENB 118), University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa, Florida 33620, USA.


Micrometer-scale poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (poly-NIPAAm) hydrogel monolith patterns were fabricated on solid surfaces using soft lithography. At sufficiently high aspect ratios, the hydrogel monoliths swell and contract laterally with temperature. The spaces between the monoliths form a series of trenches that catch, hold, and release appropriately sized targets. A series of poly-NIPAAm monoliths were fabricated with dry dimensions of 40 microm height, 12 microm diameter, and a spacing of 12 microm between monoliths. Above the lower critical solution temperature (LCST), the monoliths collapse to their dry dimensions and the spacing between monoliths is 12 microm. Below the LCST, the monoliths swell by 70% in the lateral direction, reducing the gap size between monoliths to 3 microm. The potential use of the hydrogel monoliths as size-selective "catch and release" structures was demonstrated with a mixture of 6 and 20 microm polystyrene microspheres, where the 6 microm diameter particles were selectively concentrated and separated from the larger particles.

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