A commercially available CO2 laser scriber is used to perform the direct-writing ablation of polymethyl-methacrylate (PMMA) substrates for microfluidic applications. The microfluidic designs are created using commercial layout software and are converted into the command signals required to drive the laser scriber in such a way as to reproduce the desired microchannel configuration on the surface of a PMMA substrate. The aspect ratio and surface quality of the ablated microchannels are examined using scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy surface measurement techniques. The results show that a smooth channel wall can be obtained without the need for a post-machining annealing operation by performing the scribing process with the CO2 laser beam in an unfocused condition. The practicality of the proposed approach is demonstrated by fabricating two microfluidic chips, namely a cytometer, and an integrating microfluidic chip for methanol detection, respectively. The results confirm that the proposed unfocused ablation technique represents a viable solution for the rapid and economic fabrication of a wide variety of PMMA-based microfluidic chips.
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