Vibration-driven Droplet Transport using Engineered Microfluidic Surfaces

Principal Investigator: Karl Bohringer

Lab-on-a-chip devices integrate laboratory functions (such as separation and analysis of components of a mixture) with volumes of fluid on the order of nanoliters to picoliters. The emergence of droplet microfluidics for lab-on-a-chip technologies has shown promising utility for bioassay and genomic sequencing applications. Current technologies rely on complex electrode systems to drive droplets over short distances, limiting their applications. There remains the need for a simple method and apparatus for transporting droplets over complex paths.

This technology uses ambient vibration to drive droplets across engineered surface structures. Using standard microfabrication techniques, precise patterns guide droplets with low-to-zero sample loss. These patterns exploit asymmetric wetting imposed by physical structures (curved rung and pillar) or flat hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces. The use of ambient vibration as the driving force removes the need for complex electrode structures and enables extremely power efficient droplet transport over long distances. Complex droplet pathways may be designed for microfluidic applications with low drag and low hysteresis. This technology opens up low power possibilities for lab-on-chip devices.

• Energy efficient, low loss droplet transport for microfluidic and lab-on-chip technologies 

• Bioassays, drug discovery, gene sequencing, protein analysis, energy harvesting 

• Scalable manufacture of complex microfluidic pathways via standard microfabrication techniques 

• Energy efficient droplet transport over long distances without need for complex electrode designs 

• Low-to-no-loss sample manipulation


For more info, contact: Forest Bohrer