A microfluidic device utilizing magnetically activated nickel (Ni) micropads has been developed for controlled localization of plasmonic core-shell magnetic nanoparticles, specifically for surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) applications. Magnetic microfluidics allows for automated washing steps, provides a means for easy reagent packaging, allows for chip reusability, and can even be used to facilitate on-chip mixing and filtration towards full automation of biological sample processing and analysis. Milliliter volumes of gold-coated 175-nm silica encapsulated iron oxide nanoparticles were pumped into a microchannel and allowed to magnetically concentrate down into 7.5 nl volumes over nano-thick lithographically defined Ni micropads. This controlled aggregation of core-shell magnetic nanoparticles by an externally applied magnetic field not only enhances the SERS detection limit within the newly defined nanowells but also generates a more uniform (~92%) distribution of the SERS signal when compared to random mechanical aggregation. The microfluidic flow rate and the direction and strength of the magnetic field determined the overall capture efficiency of the magneto-fluidic nanoparticle trapping platform. It was found that a 5 μl/min flow rate using an attractive magnetic field provided by 1×2 cm neodymium permanent magnets could capture over 90% of the magnetic core-shell nanoparticles across five Ni micropads. It was also observed that the intensity of the SERS signal for this setup was 10-fold higher than any other flow rate and magnetic field configurations tested. The magnetic concentration of the ferric core-shell nanoparticles causes the SERS signal to reach the steady state within 30 min can be reversed by simply removing the chip from the magnet housing and sonicating the retained particles from the outlet channel. Additionally, each magneto-fluidic can be reused without noticeable damage to the micropads up to three times.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry