Characterization of enzymatic micromachining for construction of variable cross-section microchannel topologies.
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The ability to harness enzymatic activity as an etchant to precisely machine biodegradable substrates introduces new possibilities for microfabrication. This flow-based etching is straightforward to implement, enabling patterning of microchannels with topologies that incorporate variable depth along the cross-sectional dimension. Additionally, unlike conventional small-molecule formulations, the macromolecular nature of enzymatic etchants enables features to be precisely positioned. Here, we introduce a kinetic model to characterize the enzymatic machining process and its localization by co-injection of a macromolecular inhibitor species. Our model captures the interaction between enzyme, inhibitor, and substrate under laminar flow, enabling rational prediction of etched microchannel profiles so that cross-sectional topologies incorporating complex lateral variations in depth can be constructed. We also apply this approach to achieve simultaneous widening of an entire network of microchannels produced in the biodegradable polymeric substrate poly(lactic acid), laying a foundation to construct systems incorporating a broad range of internal cross-sectional dimensions by manipulating the process conditions.