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Title: Optimization of continuous flow polymerase chain reaction with microfluidic reactors
Author: Koc, Yasemin
ISNI:       0000 0001 3601 3258
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2008
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The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is an enzyme catalyzed technique, used to amplify the number of copies of a specific region of DNA. This technique can be used to identify, with high-probability, disease-causing viruses and/or bacteria, the identity of a deceased person, or a criminal suspect. Even though PCR has had a tremendous impact in clinical diagnostics, medical sciences and forensics, the technique presents several drawbacks. For example, the costs associated with each reaction are high and the reaction is prone to contamination due to its inherent efficiency and high sensitivity. By employing microfluidic systems to perform PCR these advantages can be circumvented. This thesis addresses implementation issues that adversely affect PCR in microdevices and aims to improve the efficiency of the reaction by introducing novel materials and methods to existing protocols. Molecule-surface-interactions and temperature control/determination are the main focus within this work. Microchannels and microreactors are characterized by extremely high surface-to-volume ratios. This dictates that surfaces play a dominant role in defining the efficiency of PCR (and other synthetic processes) through increased molecule-surface interactions. In a multicomponent reaction system where the concentration of several components needs to be maintained the situation is particularly complicated. For example, inhibition of PCR is commonly observed due to polymerase adsorption on channel walls. Within this work a number of different surface treatments have been investigated with a view to minimizing adsorption effects on microfluidic channels. In addition, novel studies introducing the use of superhydrophobic coatings on microfluidic channels are presented. Specifically superhydrophobic surfaces exhibiting contact angles in excess of 1500 have been created by growing copper oxide and zinc oxide nanoneedles and silica-sol gel micropores on microfluidic channels. Such surfaces utilize additional surface roughness to promote hydrophobicity. Aqueous solutions in contact with superhydrophobic surfaces are suspended by bridging-type wetting, and therefore the fraction of the surface in contact with the aqueous layer is significantly lower than for a flat surface. An additional difficulty associated with PCR on microscale is the detennination and control of temperature. When perfonning PCR, the ability to accurately control system temperatures is especially important since both primer annealing to single-stranded DNA and the catalytic extension of this primer to form the complementary strand will only proceed in an efficient manner within relatively narrow temperature ranges. It is therefore imperative to be able to accurately monitor the temperature distributions in such microfluidic channels. In this thesis, fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) is used as a novel method to directly quantify temperature within microchannel environments. The approach, which includes the use of multiphoton excitation to achieve optical sectioning, allows for high spatial and temporal resolution, operates over a wide temperature range and can be used to rapidly quantify local temperatures with high precision.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available