maze design for the race

Lab Note #3
Mar 08, 2014

One of the ideas for the maze we will employ during the race is shown in this figure. Cells will enter from the bottom and move through the maze towards the top chamber (bright green) what will hold the chemical attractant. The channels are just 5 micrometers thin and the pitch of the grid is 50 microns. The total distance cells will have to travel will be about 800 microns (the thickness of a standard paperclip). It will take more than one hour for a cell to move all the way to the finish line, if it manages to avoid the dead ends...

How did we make this maze? The basic technology is called photolitography and has been borrowed from the electronics industry. We start with a technical drawing of the maze we want to make. That drawing gets translated into a photolitography mask by a special printer-like system using very fine lasers. If a common printer has a resolution that is at the best 600 dpi, these specialized printers can go down to 100,000 dpi. The photolitography mask is then taken to our cleanroom and used to photo-pattern a layer of photo-sensitive resist on the flat surface of a silicon wafer. The pattern transfer is helped by ultraviolet light, similar to photographic films. A series of features, corresponding to the initial drawing will be developed on the surface of the wafer. They will be complementary to the channels we want to make. A silicone material will be cast on the silicon wafer and after curing, will have all the channels imprinted on one surface. To close the channels, we will bond the silicone to a glass slide. Each channel will now have four walls, three of silicone and one of glass. Learn more about the microfabrication technologies on our research website:

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