Paper-based analytical devices provide novel platforms for functional sensing applications, such as medical diagnostics and environmental monitoring. They are based on porous hydrophilic material, which transports the sample liquid by capillary action. The directional flow of aqueous liquids can be controlled by selective hydrophobising of pores. Earlier research in this field has concentrated on highly porous cellulose papers as base substrates, with no significant interest shown for pigment coatings. Such coatings can produce significantly thinner porous layers, thus requiring smaller sample volumes. This study investigates the hydrophobic patterning of custom-designed porous pigment coatings by functional inkjet printing. Tested coatings consisted of reference ground calcium carbonate and porous functionalised calcium carbonate (FCC) pigments combined with various binders, including microfibrillated cellulose. The hydrophobising custom-made inks contain polystyrene or alkyl ketene dimer (AKD) in p-xylene. The patterning is demonstrated by reaction arrays and simple channels. With polystyrene ink, successful hydrophobic barriers could be generated on all tested pigment/binder coatings, although generally requiring printing of multiple layers of barrier material. With AKD ink, hydrophobic patterns could be created successfully on coatings containing an organic binder, but not on coatings with inorganic sodium silicate as binder. The AKD ink generated hydrophobic barriers using fewer ink layers compared with polystyrene ink. Interestingly, AKD ink could hydrophobise the FCC pigment alone without binder, presumably due to hydroxyl groups on the pigment surface. Hydrophobic patterning of the pigment coatings is seen to require large amounts of hydrophobising agent, likely related to the high specific surface area.
- Inkjet printing
- Functional printing
- Functional coating
- Functionalised calcium carbonate
- Hydrophobising ink
- Paper-based analytical device