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Amorphous poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET), which possess a low softening temperature (Ts = 75 °C), was exploited to fabricate the electrophoresis chip with an integrated gold electrode for amperometric detection, with emphases being focused on the PET surface modification via UV light and air plasma. Both UV irradiation and plasma treatment were found to be able to improve the surface wettability, enhance the supported electroosmotic flow (EOF), and increase thermal bonding strength of PET sheets, with the latter being more efficient and less time-consuming than the former in the surface modification. Upon treated with plasma for 2 min, the PET sheets could be thermally bonded at 65 °C.

T-peer test showed that the bonding strength increased from 10 g/cm for native PET sheets to 1250 g/cm for the plasma treated sheets when chips were bonded at the softening point, Attenuated-total-internal-reflection spectrum showed that, after being exposed to the UV light, carboxylic groups site-selectively formed in the UV-exposed region on PET surface. These UV-induced carboxylic groups were further utilized as the scaffold for preparation of micro-gold electrode via electroless gold plating. By using this established UV-directed electroless plating and the plasma-assisted thermal bonding techniques, the full PET electrophoresis chip with an integrated micro-gold electrode could be fabricated in common chemistry laboratory without the need of clean rooms. The fabricated PET chips were demonstrated for separation and detection of model analytes of dopamine (DA) and catechol (CA).

Satisfactory resolution of the two analytes was achieved within 40 s, and detection limits of 0.87 μM and 1.28 μM for DA and CA were obtained, respectively.

This article originally appeared in Journal of Chromatography A1209, Issues 1–2, 2008, Pages 246-252.

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