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Langmuir. 2008 Mar 18;24(6):2261-5. doi: 10.1021/la703744v. Epub 2008 Feb 16.

Synergistic microfluidic and electrochemical strategy to activate and pattern surfaces selectively with ligands and cells.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Carolina Center for Genome Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-3290, USA.


We show a straightforward, flexible synergistic approach that combines microfluidics, electrochemistry, and a general immobilization strategy to activate regions of a substrate selectively for the precise immobilization of ligands and cells in patterns for a variety of cell-based assays and cell migration and cell adhesion studies. We develop microfluidic microchips to control the delivery of electrolyte solution to select regions of an electroactive hydroquinone SAM. Once an electrical potential is applied to the substrate, only the hydroquinone exposed to electrolyte solution within the microfluidic channels oxidizes to the corresponding quinone. The quinone form can then react chemoselectively with oxyamine-tethered ligands to pattern the surface. Therefore, this microfluidic/electrochemistry strategy selectively activates the surface for ligand patterning that exactly matches the channel design of the microfluidic channel. We demonstrate the ease of this system by first quantitatively characterizing the electrochemical activation and immobilization of ligands on the surface. Second, we immobilize a fluorescent dye to show the fidelity of the methodology, and third, we show the immobilization of biospecific cell adhesive peptide ligands to pattern cells. This is the first report that combines microfluidics/electrochemistry and a general electroactive immobilization strategy to pattern ligands and cells. We believe that this strategy will be of broad utility for applications ranging from fundamental studies of cell behavior to patterning molecules on a variety of materials for molecular electronic devices.

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