University of Cambridge > > BSS Formal Seminars > Droplet-Based Microfluidics: High-Throughput Experimentation One Drop at a Time

Droplet-Based Microfluidics: High-Throughput Experimentation One Drop at a Time

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  • UserProf. Andrew J. deMello, Professor of Biochemical Engineering Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering, Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering, ETH Zürich, Vladimir-Prelog-Weg 1, 8093, Zürich, Switzerland World_link
  • ClockFriday 29 January 2016, 14:00-15:00
  • HousePippard Lecture Theater.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr. Hernandez-Ainsa.

The past 25 years have seen considerable progress in the development of microfabricated systems for use in the chemical and biological sciences. Interest in microfluidic technology has driven by concomitant advances in the areas of genomics, proteomics, drug discovery, high-throughput screening and diagnostics, with a clearly defined need to perform rapid measurements on small sample volumes. At a basic level, microfluidic activities have been stimulated by the fact that physical processes can be more easily controlled when instrumental dimensions are reduced to the micron scale.1 The relevance of such technology is significant and characterized by a range of features that accompany system miniaturization. Such features include the ability to process small volumes of fluid, enhanced analytical performance, reduced instrumental footprints, low unit costs, facile integration of functional components within monolithic substrates and the capacity to exploit atypical fluid behaviour to control chemical and biological entities in both time and space.

My lecture will discuss recent studies that are focused on exploiting the spontaneous formation of droplets in microfluidic systems to perform a variety of analytical processes.

Droplet-based microfluidic systems allow the generation and manipulation of discrete droplets contained within an immiscible continuous phase.2 They leverage immiscibility to create discrete volumes that reside and move within a continuous flow. Significantly, such segmented-flows allow for the production of monodisperse droplets at rates in excess of tens of KHz and independent control of each droplet in terms of size, position and chemical makeup. Moreover, the use of droplets in complex chemical and biological processing relies on the ability to perform a range of integrated, unit operations in high- throughput. Such operations include droplet generation, droplet merging/fusion, droplet sorting, droplet splitting, droplet dilution, droplet storage and droplet sampling.3-4 I will provide examples of how droplet-based microfluidic systems can be used to perform a range of experiments including nanomaterial synthesis,5 cell-based assays6 and DNA amplification.7

[1] A.J. deMello, Nature, 442 (2006) 394-402. 
 [2] X. Casadevall-i-Solvas & A.J. deMello, Chemical Communications, 47 (2011) 1936–1942. [3] X. Niu, S. Gulati, J.B. Edel & A.J. deMello, Lab Chip, 8 (2008) 1837–1841. 
 [4] X.Niu, F. Gielen, J.B. Edel & A.J. deMello, Nature Chemistry, 3 (2011) 437-442. 
 [5] I. Lignos et al., Small, 11 (2015) 4009–4017 [6] Soongwon Cho et al., Analytical Chemistry, 85 (2013) 8866–8872. [7] Yolanda Schaerli et al., Analytical Chemistry, 81 (2009) 302-306.

This talk is part of the BSS Formal Seminars series.

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