CHEMISTRY: Microscale Origami

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Science  01 Sep 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5791, pp. 1205b
DOI: 10.1126/science.313.5791.1205b

Recent advances in lithography and other surface-patterning techniques have fostered construction of a wide range of microfluidic devices that offer precise control over chemical and biochemical reactions and separations at or below microliter volume scales. However, one limitation of this fabrication technology is its inherent restriction to two-dimensional device geometries.

Leong et al. overcome this limitation by patterning flat wafers with solder deposited along hinge lines. When heat is applied to melt the solder, the wafers fold spontaneously along the hinges to form cubic or pyramidal boxes, with volumes ranging from ∼0.2 to 8 nl. The authors use photolithography to imprint distinct pore arrangements into the surfaces set to become the box faces. As a result, they can inject chemical reagents embedded in polymeric gels and control the rate and orientation of their release. The fabrication process is high-yielding, and when nickel is used as the substrate, the corresponding box can be manipulated with an external magnet to release its chemical cargo in a spatially selective manner. — JSY

J. Am. Chem. Soc. 128, 10.1021/ja063100z (2006).

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