A process to fabricate fused silica nanofluidic devices with embedded electrodes using an optimized room temperature bonding technique

Fused silica is an ideal material for nanofluidic systems due to its extreme purity, chemical inertness, optical transparency, and native hydrophilicity. However, devicesrequiring embedded electrodes (e.g., for bioanalytical applications) are difficult to realize given the typical hightemperature fusion bonding requirements (∼1000 °C). In this work, we optimize a two-step plasma activation process which involves an oxygen plasma treatment followed by a nitrogen plasma treatment to increase the fusion bonding strength of fused silica at room temperature. We conduct a parametric study of this treatment to investigate its effect on bonding strength, surface roughness, and microstructure morphology. We find that by including a nitrogen plasmatreatment to the standard oxygen plasma activation process, the room temperature bonding strength increases by 70% (0.342 J∕m2 to 0.578 J∕m2). Employing this optimized process, we fabricate and characterize a nanofluidic device with an integrated and dielectrically separated electrode. Our results prove that the channels do not leak with over 1 MPa of applied pressure after a 24 h storage time, and the electrodeexhibits capacitive behavior with a finite parallel resistance in the upper MΩ range for up to a 6.3Vdc bias. These data thus allow us to overcome the barrier that has barred nanofluidic progress for the last decade, namely, the development of nanometer scale well-defined channels with embedded metallic materials for far-reaching applications such as the exquisite manipulation of biomolecules.

Boden, S.A., Karam, P. R., Schmidt, A. and Pennathur S.
Applied Physics Letters
Volume: 110
Number: 18
Date: May, 2017
ICB Affiliated Authors: Sumita Pennathur