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Anal Chem. 2011 Mar 15;83(6):1871-3. doi: 10.1021/ac102963x. Epub 2011 Feb 2.

Nanochromatography driven by the coffee ring effect.


The coffee ring phenomenon has long been known for its ability to concentrate particles at the rim of a dried liquid droplet, yet little is known about its particle separation capability. Here, we elucidate the physics of particle separation during coffee ring formation, which is based on a particle-size selection mechanism near the contact line of an evaporating droplet. On the basis of this mechanism, we demonstrate nanochromatography of three relevant biological entities (proteins, micro-organisms, and mammalian cells) in a liquid droplet, with a separation resolution on the order of ∼100 nm and a dynamic range from ∼10 nm to a few tens of micrometers. These findings have direct implications for developing low-cost technologies for disease diagnostics in resource-poor environments.

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