This study develops a novel temperature cycling strategy for executing temperature cycling reactions in laser-etched poly(methylmethacrylate) (PMMA) microfluidic chips. The developed microfluidic chip is circular in shape and is clamped in contact with a circular ITO heater chip of an equivalent diameter. Both chips are fabricated using an economic and versatile laser scribing process. Using this arrangement, a self-sustained radial temperature gradient is generated within the microfluidic chip without the need to thermally isolate the different temperature zones. This study demonstrates the temperature cycling capabilities of the reported microfluidic device by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) process using ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase large subunit (rbcL) gene as a template. The temperature ramping rate of the sample inside the microchannel is determined from the spectral change of a thermochromic liquid crystal (TLC) solution pumped into the channel. The present results confirm that a rapid thermal cycling effect is achieved despite the low thermal conductivity of the PMMA substrate. Using IR thermometry, it is found that the radial temperature gradient of the chip is approximately 2 degrees C mm(-1). The simple system presented in this study has considerable potential for miniaturizing complex integrated reactions requiring different cycling parameters.
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