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This paper presents a novel process for the fabrication of out-of-plane hollow microneedles in silicon. The fabrication method consists of a sequence of deep-reactive ion etching (DRIE), anisotropic wet etching and conformal thin film deposition, and allows needle shapes with different, lithography-defined tip curvature. In this study, the length of the needles varied between 150 and 350 micrometers. The widest dimension of the needle at its base was 250 μm. Preliminary application tests of the needle arrays show that they are robust and permit skin penetration without breakage. Transdermal water loss measurements before and after microneedle skin penetration are reported. Drug delivery is increased approximately by a factor of 750 in microneedle patch applications with respect to diffusion alone. The feasibility of using the microneedle array as a blood sampler on a capillary electrophoresis chip is demonstrated.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2003