Recent developments in science and engineering have advanced the atomic manufacturing of nanoscale structures, allowing for improved high-performance technologies. The challenge now is to expand nanomanufacturing capabilities in order to fabricate a broader range of structures with higher complexity, greater precision and accuracy, and with substantially improved performance. Also, reducing the cost by avoiding the use of expensive equipment/processes is highly desirable. While current nanomanufacturing capabilities limit the commercialization of such nanoscale structures, AFM-based nanomachining is a promising tool to address issues and is considered a potential manufacturing tool for operations including machining, patterning, and assembling with in situ metrology and visualization. Most existing techniques used in the fabrication of nanofluidic channels involved the use of electron-beam lithography systems, which are very expensive processes. In addition, one of the issues associated with electron-beam lithography is when the base material is changed; the energy of ejecting electrons needs to be adjusted. This results in time spending on developing the formula for different material. In this work, atomic force microscopy (AFM) is employed in the fabrication of a nanofluidic device for medical applications. Nanofluidic channels with various depths and widths are fabricated using AFM indentation and scratching techniques. Nanoscale channel is mainly used in the study of molecular behavior at single molecule level. The interaction of molecules with the nanochannels at persistence length has led to a new way of detecting, analyzing and separating these biomolecules. The resulting device from the current work can be used for the DNA stretching application and the separation of elite group of lysosome and other viruses.
The nanochannels are integrated between the microchannels and act as a filter to separate biomolecules. Sharply developed vertical microchannels are produced from a deep reaction ion etching followed by deposition of different materials such as gold and polymer on the top surface in order to study alternative ways of manufacturing the nanofluidic device. PDMS bonding is performed to close the top surface of the device. An experimental setup is used to test and validate the device by flowing fluid through the channels. A detailed cost evaluation is conducted to assess the economical merits of the proposed process. It is shown that there is 47.7% manufacturing-time savings and 60.6% manufacturing-cost savings, when using the proposed process compared to more traditional processes.