Hong Kong Research Grants Council (Project no: CityU 116912), the Chinese Academy of Sciences–Croucher Funding Scheme for Joint Laboratories (Project no: 9500011), and The Science Technology and Innovation Committee of Shenzhen Municipality grants (JCYJ20140813161522550 and JCYJ20150828104330541).
We present a rapid hydrogel polymerization and prototyping microfabrication technique using an optically induced electrokinetics (OEK) chip, which is based on a non-UV hydrogel curing principle. Using this technique, micro-scale high-aspect-ratio three-dimensional polymer features with different geometric sizes can be fabricated within 1-10 min by projecting pre-defined visible light image patterns onto the OEK chip. This method eliminates the need for traditional photolithography masks used for patterning and fabricating polymer microstructures and simplifies the fabrication processes. This technique uses cross-link hydrogels, such as poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-diacrylate (PEGDA), as fabrication materials. We demonstrated that hydrogel micropillar arrays rapidly fabricated using this technique can be used as molds to create micron-scale cavities in PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane) substrates. Furthermore, hollow, circular tubes with controllable wall thicknesses and high-aspect ratios can also be fabricated. These results show the potential of this technique to become a rapid prototyping technology for producing microfluidic devices. In addition, we show that rapid prototyping of three-dimensional suspended polymer structures is possible without any sacrificial etching process.