Device design and fabrication
Vectorchips with integrated PDMS elastomer membranes were fabricated using a combination of laser patterning and soft lithography. We selected PDMS as the material of choice due to its low cost, biocompatibility, optical transparency, and chemical stability. PDMS-based devices can be fabricated using reproducible and scalable fabrication techniques26. Such devices have routinely been used for molecular analysis of small sample volumes using microfluidics27, and are compatible with molecular assays and cell cultures21,22. We used laser patterning to create open-ended arrayed compartments (3−4 mm deep) to capture saliva droplets from mosquito bites in PDMS micro-wells (Fig. 1a–d). In order to obtain ultra-thin PDMS films that the mosquito mouth parts can pierce, we utilized spin-coating of uncured PDMS over a flat silicon surface. We obtained membrane-integrated devices after plasma-induced PDMS-PDMS bonding of the laser-patterned array with the PDMS film (Fig. 1e). Detailed steps describing chip fabrication are included in the methods section below. The versatile fabrication process can provide user-defined variation in the size and density of the individual compartments. We were able to fabricate chips with hole diameters ranging from 150 μm to 1 cm (Supplementary Fig. 1) showing the scales of operation for the laser-ablation process while maintaining membrane stability. Additionally, the membrane can be easily integrated with fluidic networks for direct interfacing with mosquito bites, enabling assays involving on-chip fluid exchange (Fig. 1f). The microfluidic compartments on the chips can hold feeding media such as blood or sugar water (Fig. 1g), collect saliva during biting events, and act as isolated reaction chambers for molecular assays.