A collection of microfluidic art by Savannah Szemethy
My microfluidic art consists of imagery rather than geometric design and uses the photolithography/soft lithography method for device creation. My main focus is color theory, and I like to use bold, bright colors, especially brilliant pinks and blues. I am very particular about lineart and spend hours in Adobe Illustrator to ensure that the final linework is clean and smooth.
In accordance with my focus on color theory, my devices tend to have larger feature sizes to accommodate patterns and gradients. I fill all of my devices with a syringe pump so that I have precise control over flow and can minimize flooding. For some devices, such as the Eye design, I pause the flow of the syringe pump after the device has completely filled and poke the PDMS layer with tweezers in order to disrupt the fluid and create patterns of color when the flow restarts.
Due to my larger feature sizes, my biggest challenge with the creation of these devices was the issue of flooding. Since my artworks fill most of the space on the glass slides and have big channels, there is less surface area for bonding between the PDMS and the glass slide. As such, the strength of the plasma bond can be rather weak at times, causing the devices to flood and leak during the filling process. In order to mitigate this error, I began to bake the completed microfluidic device on the hot plate at 65+ oC for at least 30 min after plasma bonding to strengthen the bond. This post-plasma bake has greatly reduced the risk of flooding, although leakage will still sometimes occur at an inlet, as shown below with the D20 design.
Pictured below is my final gallery of completed devices. Over the course of the three years that I have been making this art, I have attempted to make many more devices than shown below, but some designs had to be scrapped or reworked due to difficulties with device fabrication or fluidic filling. A final artistic microfluidic chip can take about 15-25 hours to create, depending on the complexity of the design.