Dec 2, 2013

Monodisperse drops templated by 3D-structured microparticles

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Andrea GobbiDino Di Carlo


The ability to create uniform sub-nanoliter compartments using microfluidic control has enabled new approaches for analysis of single cells and molecules. However, specialized instruments or expertise have been required, slowing the adoption of these cutting-edge applications. Here, we show that 3D-structured microparticles with sculpted surface chemistries template uniformly-sized aqueous drops when simply mixed with two immiscible fluid phases. In contrast to traditional emulsions, particle-templated drops of a controlled volume occupy a minimum in the interfacial energy of the system, such that a stable monodisperse state results with simple and reproducible formation conditions. We describe techniques to manufacture microscale drop-carrier particles and show that emulsions created with these particles prevent molecular exchange, concentrating reactions within the drops, laying a foundation for sensitive compartmentalized assays with minimal instrumentation.

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