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Langmuir. 2008 Jun 17;24(12):6382-9. doi: 10.1021/la7039509. Epub 2008 May 16.

Pluronic additives: a solution to sticky problems in digital microfluidics.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Toronto, 80 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3H6, Canada.


Digital microfluidics (DMF) is a promising technique for carrying out miniaturized, automated biochemical assays in which discrete droplets of reagents are actuated on the surface of an array of electrodes. A limitation for DMF is nonspecific protein adsorption to device surfaces, which interferes with assay fidelity and can cause droplets to become unmovable. Here, we report the results of a quantitative analysis of protein adsorption on DMF devices by means of confocal microscopy and secondary ion mass spectrometry. This study led us to a simple and effective method for limiting the extent of protein adsorption: the use of low concentrations of Pluronic F127 as a solution additive. This strategy has a transformative effect on digital microfluidics, facilitating the actuation of droplets containing greater than 1000-fold higher protein concentrations than is possible without the additive. To illustrate the benefits of this new method, we implemented a DMF-driven protein digest assay using large concentrations (1 mg/mL) of protein-substrate. The use of Pluronic additives solves a sticky problem in DMF, which greatly expands the range of applications that are compatible with this promising technology.

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