Date of Award

Fall 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Chemical Engineering


Heather Sheardown


Kim Jones



Committee Member

Ponnambalam Selvaganapathy


Sight-threatening diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), affect the tissues of the posterior segment of the eye. Though modern classes of biomolecular based drugs are therapeutically useful, drug targeting for prolonged bioavailability to pathological sites within the eye is challenging. Current delivery approaches are invasive and lack control over drug release rates and tissue-specific localization. In this thesis, a device using microneedles embedded in a flexible platform was developed that could potentially overcome these challenges.

New methods for microneedle fabrication were developed by co-opting simple chemical etch methods commonly used for optical probe fabrication as an alternative to current complex and expensive photolithographic technologies to produce out-of-plane, high aspect ratio microneedles which are often constrained materially to silicon and metal. Microneedles with repeatable tip and taper sizes were obtained using hydrofluoric acid, an organic phase and fused-silica capillary tubing. Microneedles with 10 um tips were made using single and batch mode methods and were then integrated into poly (dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) for alignment using low cost micromolding approaches offering the same degree of accuracy provided by conventional photolithography.

Single microneedle-based devices successfully delivered rhodamine intrasclerally, intravitreally, suprachoroidally and to the retina. This is the first demonstration of active delivery to specific spatial regions within the posterior eye at controllable rates using a non-implantable, biocompatible device – with minimal fabrication facilities, equipment and cost. The fabricated device demonstrated a new hybrid approach of coupling a rigid microneedle with a soft and pliable substrate that could conform to biological tissues.

McMaster University Library

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