Electric control of droplets in microfluidic devices

The precision manipulation of streams of fluids with microfluidic devices is revolutionizing many fluid-based technolotechnologies and enabling the development of high-throughput reactors that use minute quantities of reagents. However, as the scale of these reactors shrinks, contamination effects due to surface adsorption and diffusion limit the smallest quantities that can be used. The confinement of reagents in droplets in an immiscible carrier fluid overcomes these limitations, but demands new fluid-handling technology. We present a platform technology based on charged droplets and electric fields that enables electrically addressable droplet generation, highly efficient droplet coalescence, precision droplet breaking and recharging, and controllable droplet sorting. This is an essential enabling technology for a high-throughput droplet microfluidic reactor.

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