Microfluidics in the Undergraduate Laboratory: Device Fabrication and an Experiment to Mimic Intravascular Gas Embolism


  • Erin L. Jablonski Bucknell University
  • Brandon M. Vogel Bucknell University
  • Daniel P. Cavanagh Bucknell University
  • Kathryn L. Beers National Institute of Standards and Technology


A method to fabricate microfluidic devices and an experimental protocol to model intravascular gas embolism for undergraduate laboratories are presented. The fabrication process details how to produce masters on glass slides; these masters serve as molds to pattern channels in an elastomeric polymer that can be adhered to a substrate, resulting in a microfluidic device. This fabrication technique can produce various channel configurations. The gas embolism experiment demonstrates fundamental fluid dynamics phenomena in model vasculature.

Author Biographies

Erin L. Jablonski, Bucknell University

Erin L. Jablonski is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Bucknell University. Her interests in engineering education include effective integration of classroom and laboratory activities through project-based design. Her research interests are in the characterization of surface chemical properties and diffusion in polymeric materials.

Brandon M. Vogel, Bucknell University

Brandon M. Vogel is an assistant professor of chemical engineering and is a Jane W. Griffith Fellow at Bucknell University. He received his B.S. in chemistry and B.ChE. from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Iowa State University. He teaches biomaterials, bioprocess engineering, senior design, and statistics. His research interests include the synthesis of new materials to detect, target, and treat disease.

Daniel P. Cavanagh, Bucknell University

Daniel P. Cavanagh is chair and associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Bucknell University. He currently holds the Richard C. and Gertrude B. Emmitt Memorial Chair in Biomedical Engineering and was awarded the Christian R. and Mary F. Lind back Award for Distinguished Teaching at Bucknell University. His research interests focus on the use of microfluidic technology to investigate the mechanics of intravascular gas embolism.

Kathryn L. Beers, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Kathryn L. Beers is the deputy division chief and Sustainable Polymers Group leader in the Polymers Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Her current interests include the use of microfluidics and microreactors for polymerizations based on renewable feedstocks and using green transformation routes. In the past, her research focused on measurements of polymers at interfaces, and polymerizations in confined spaces, as well as developing microfluidic technology for complex fluid measurements.