In the past decades, single-cell metabolic analysis has been playing a key role in understanding cellular heterogeneity, disease initiation, progression, and drug resistance. Therefore, it is critical to develop technologies for individual cellular metabolic analysis using various configurations of microfluidic devices. Compared to bulk-cell analysis which is widely used by reporting an averaged measurement, single-cell analysis is able to present the individual cellular responses to the external stimuli. Particularly, oxygen consumption rate (OCR) and extracellular acidification rate (ECAR) are two key parameters to monitor heterogeneous metabolic profiles of cancer cells. To achieve multi-parameter metabolic measurements on single cells, several technical challenges need to be overcome: (1) low adhesion of soft materials micro-fabricated on glass surface for multiple-sensor deposition and single-cell immobilization, e.g. SU-8, KMPR, etc.; (2) high risk of using external mechanical forces to create hermetic seals between two rigid fused silica parts, even with compliance layers; (3) how to accomplish high-throughput for single-cell trapping, metabolic profiling and drug screening; (4) high process cost of micromachining on glass substrate and incapability of mass production.
In this dissertation, the development of microfabrication technologies is demonstrated to design reliable configurations for analyzing multiple metabolic parameters from single cells, including (1) improved KMPR/SU-8 microfabrication protocols for fabricating microwell arrays that can be integrated and sealed to 3 × 3 tri-color sensor arrays for OCR and ECAR measurements; (2) design and characterization of a microfluidic device enabling rapid single-cell trapping and hermetic sealing single cells and tri-color sensors within 10 × 10 hermetically sealed microchamber arrays; (3) exhibition of a low-cost microfluidic device based on plastics for single-cell metabolic multi-parameter profiling. Implementation of these improved microfabrication methods should address the aforementioned challenges and provide a high throughput and multi-parameter single cell metabolic analysis platform.