The fabrication of microfluidic channels with complex three-dimensional (3D) geometries presents a major challenge to the field of microfluidics, because conventional lithography methods are mainly limited to rectangular cross-sections. In this paper, we demonstrate the use of mechanical micromachining to fabricate microfluidic channels with complex cross-sectional geometries. Micro-scale milling tools are first used to fabricate semi-circular patterns on planar metallic surfaces to create a master mold. The micromilled pattern is then transferred to polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) through a two-step reverse molding process. Using these semi-circular PDMS channels, circular cross-sectioned microchannels are created by aligning and adhering two channels face-to-face. Straight and serpentine-shaped microchannels were fabricated, and the channel geometry and precision of the metallic master and PDMS molds were assessed through scanning electron microscopy and non-contact profilometry. Channel functionality was tested by perfusion of liquid through the channels. This work demonstrates that micromachining enabled soft lithography is capable of fabricating non-rectangular cross-section channels for microfluidic applications. We believe that this approach will be important for many fields from biomimetics and vascular engineering to microfabrication and microreactor technologies.
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