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This paper presents a continuous-flow polymerase chain reaction (PCR) microchip with a serpentine microchannel of varying width for "regional velocity control." Varying the channel width by incorporating expanding and contracting conduits made it possible to control DNA sample velocities for the optimization of the exposure times of the sample to each temperature phase while minimizing the transitional periods during temperature transitions. A finite element analysis (FEA) and semi-analytical heat transfer model was used to determine the distances between the three heating assemblies that are responsible for creating the denaturation (96°C), hybridization (60°C), and extension (72°C) temperature zones within the microchip. Predictions from the thermal FEA and semi-analytical model were compared with temperature measurements obtained from an infrared (IR) camera. Flow-field FEAs were also performed to predict the velocity distributions in the regions of the expanding and contracting conduits to study the effects of the microchannel geometry on flow recirculation and bubble nucleation. The flow fields were empirically studied using micro particle image velocimetry (μ-PIV) to validate the flow-field FEA's and to determine experimental velocities in each of the regions of different width. Successful amplification of a 90 base pair (bp) bacillus anthracis DNA fragment was achieved.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2006