In micro- and nanofluidic devices, highly precise fluidic control is essential. Conventional mechanical valves in microchannels and nanochannels have size limitations, whereas hydrophobic (Laplace) valves are generally difficult to use for low-surface-tension liquids. In the present study, we developed a method for handling picoliter volumes of low-surface-tension liquids in a micro-nanofluidic device. The proposed Laplace valve is based on the pinning effect. A fused silica micro-nanofluidic device that includes a picoliter chamber whose geometry was designed to induce capillary pinning was designed and fabricated. The measured Laplace pressure of a lysis buffer (surfactant) was consistent with the calculated pressure, indicating successful fabrication and hydrophobic surface modification. The working principle of the Laplace valve was verified. The Laplace valve maintained the lysis buffer at the gas/liquid interface for 60 min, which is sufficiently long for cell lysis operations. Finally, replacement of liquids in the picoliter chamber using the valve was demonstrated. The proposed method will contribute to basic technologies for fluidic control in micro- and nanofluidic devices, and the proposed Laplace valve can be used for low-surface-tension liquids. In addition, the developed valve and picoliter chamber can be utilized for the interface in single-cell lysis, which will facilitate the development of single-cell analysis devices.
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