Elias Mondaca ’21; Nicole Chavarria ’22
Microchip Capillary Electrophoresis
Majors: Chemistry; Undeclared
Faculty Collaborator: Eli Fahrenkrug, Chemistry & Biochemistry
Microchip capillary electrophoresis (micro CE) is an analytical technique used to separate compounds from each other within a solution. By applying a large voltage across a narrow capillary on a microfluidic chip loaded with buffer and a sample, ions in the capillary migrate with respect to this electric field. Meanwhile, the compounds of interest are dragged down the capillary at different speeds according to their unique chemical nature, separating them from each other. We developed a new fabrication technique for microfluidic chips that is simple, affordable, and accessible, making rapid prototyping possible. Centered around the creation and use of these chips, we drafted a lab module that can be administered to undergraduate and high school students alike to demonstrate the essentials of chemical separations, formal factorial design of experiments (DoE), and design-based learning (DBL). In the lab, students iteratively design and fabricate several chips, evaluating their separation efficiency using food dyes under a variety of experimental conditions. This module will be distributed in an article published in the Journal of Chemical Education. Another, still ongoing objective, is to integrate electrochemical detection (ED) via amperometry onto these chips, creating a complete micro-scale total analysis system (μ-TAS).