We report monolithic fabrication of parallel-plate electrowetting-on-dielectric (EWOD) chips for digital micro-fluidics of picoliter droplets. Instead of assembling a second substrate to form a top plate-the common practice with all previous parallel-plate EWOD chips-the top plate is surface micromachined as a transparent thin-film membrane that forms a monolithic cavity having a gap height on the order of micrometers with excellent accuracy and uniformity. The membrane is embedded with EWOD driving electrodes and confines droplets against the device substrate to perform digital microfluidic operations. Two main attributes of the monolithic architecture that distinguish it from tradition methods are: (i) it enables excellent control of droplet dimensions down to the micrometer scale, and (ii) it does not require the typical alignment and assembly steps. Basic device functions such as creation and splitting are verified by EWOD actuation of ~100 picoliter droplets surrounded by air or oil inside a 10 μm-high cavity. Additionally, flow focusing of droplets containing 5.3 μm beads demonstrates one example of the utilities afforded by monolithic fabrication.
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