Description: The field of microelectromechanical structures (MEMS) involves the development of miniaturization technology to control and characterize processes with instrumentation which is orders of magnitude smaller than what is currently available. The traditional approach to on-line chemical detection has been to develop highly selective sensors. This approach has been plagued with a variety of difficulties, primarily developing suitably selective sensors for the enormous variety of problems faced. Chromatographic separation prior to detection reduces these difficulties.
A miniaturized liquid chromatograph with multiple open channels on a silicon wafer has been successfully micro-fabricated. The high aspect of the channel configuration has been shown to be feasible for a micro separator, providing high surface area to enhance performance without an excessive pressure drop.
- The miniaturized chromatograph employs bonded-phase chemistry, which provides a convenient method of activating the channels for ion-exchange selectivity. Chromatographic experiments with bromide, chloride, nitrate and sulfate have been shown to give reproducible chromatograms; the device?s configuration and components can be adapted for a variety of liquid chromatographic separation techniques on a micro-scale.
- The chromatograph employs a novel open slit configuration, which enhances separation efficiency without an excessive pressure drop.
- The device offers the advantages of small size and portability, improved speed and accuracy of analysis, small sample size requirements, minimization of effluents, potential for remote sensing, and low cost.
U.S. Patent 6,258,263 (July 10, 2001).
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