Microfluidics is a vibrant and expanding field that has the potential for solving many analytical challenges. Microfluidics shows promise to provide rapid, inexpensive, efficient, and portable diagnostic solutions that can be used in resource-limited settings. Microfluidic devices have gained immense interest as diagnostic tools for various diseases through biomarker analysis. My dissertation work focuses on developing electrokinetically operated integrated microfluidic devices for the analysis of biomarkers indicative of preterm birth risk. Preterm birth (PTB), a birth prior to 37 weeks of gestation, is the most common complication of pregnancy and the leading cause of neonatal deaths and newborn illnesses. In this dissertation, I have designed, fabricated and developed several microfluidic devices that integrate various sample preparation processes like immunoaffinity extraction, preconcentration, fluorescent labeling, and electrophoretic separation of biomarkers indicative of PTB risk. I developed microchip electrophoresis devices for separation of selected PTB biomarkers. I further optimized multiple reversed-phase porous polymer monoliths UV-polymerized in microfluidic device channels for selective retention and elution of fluorescent dyes and PTB biomarkers to facilitate on-chip labeling. Successful on-chip fluorescent labeling of multiple PTB biomarkers was reported using these microfluidic devices. These devices were further developed using a pH-mediated approach for solid-phase extraction, resulting in a ~50 fold enrichment of a PTB biomarker. Additionally, this approach was integrated with microchip electrophoresis to develop a combined enrichment and separation device that yielded 15-fold preconcentration for a PTB peptide. I also developed an immunoaffinity extraction device for analyzing PTB biomarkers directly from a human serum matrix. A glycidyl methacrylate monolith was characterized within microfluidic channels for immobilization of antibodies to PTB biomarkers. Antibody immobilization and captured analyte elution protocols were optimized for these monoliths, and two PTB biomarker proteins were successfully extracted using these devices. This approach was also integrated with microchip electrophoresis for combined extraction and separation of two PTB biomarkers in spiked human serum in <30 min. In the future, these optimized microfluidic components can be integrated into a single platform for automated immunoaffinity extraction, preconcentration, fluorescent labeling, and separation of PTB biomarkers. This integrated microfluidic platform could significantly improve human health by providing early diagnosis of PTBs.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry and Biochemistry



Date Submitted


Document Type





microfluidics, microchip electrophoresis, sample preparation, electrochromatography, monoliths, immunoaffinity extraction, solid-phase extraction, on-chip labeling, preconcentration, biomarker analysis



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Chemistry Commons