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Anal Chem. 2013 Jul 2;85(13):6491-6. doi: 10.1021/ac4010524. Epub 2013 Jun 20.

Reagent delivery by partial coalescence and noncoalescence of aqueous microdroplets in oil.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. 20057, USA.


Reagent delivery constitutes a key step for reaction initiation in droplet-in-oil microfluidic platforms. Currently, this function is performed by complete fusion of a reagent droplet with the reactor droplet. The full coalescence, however, constrains the lower limit of volume delivery because reproducible droplet generation becomes exceedingly difficult as the reagent droplet volume is decreased. Here, we demonstrate fractional volume delivery based on partially coalescent and noncoalescent droplet collisions as a new reagent delivery mechanism. A charged reagent droplet is generated by pulsing a flow carrying needle to high voltage. The charged droplet is directed toward a grounded reactor droplet. Upon collision, the reagent droplet inverts its charge and is pulled away from the reactor droplet prior to full fusion, injecting only a fraction of its volume. The undelivered portion of the reagent drop is then merged with a collector droplet. We demonstrate that a wide range of fractional injections (0.003%-56%) can be reproducibly achieved, providing a means for minute volume delivery without small drop generation.

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