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Programmable droplet-based microfluidics

Over the past two decades, droplet-based microfluidic technologies have been used to excellent effect in chemical and biological experimentation. Unfortunately, when performing complex analytical workflows, conventional droplet-based microfluidic systems are somewhat limited, since it is difficult to execute bespoke operations on individual droplets. To address these issues, Xiaobao Cao and colleagues within the deMello group at ETH Zürich have developed a highly adaptable droplet-based microfluidic platform able to process programmable fluid handling operations and complex reaction protocols.

In a recent paper in Lab on a Chip, the team presented a microfluidic platform that integrates both droplet-based and valve-based microfluidic functionalities. The authors used pneumatic valves and peristaltic pumps to form a programmable formulator able to generate droplets with user-defined payloads. Subsequently, droplet pairing and merging modules were used to initiate user-defined reaction protocols. To showcase the utility of the platform, the team performed a range of kinetic analyses, where both substrate or inhibitor concentrations could be varied in a rapid and precise manner. The ease with complex biological workflows can be performed in an automated fashion suggests many exciting applications for this hybrid microfluidic technology set.

Written by Nan Zong

Read the published article here.

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