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Lab Chip. 2013 Jan 21;13(2):267-73. doi: 10.1039/c2lc40906b. Epub 2012 Nov 16.

Programmable active droplet generation enabled by integrated pneumatic micropumps.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.


In this work we have investigated the integrated diaphragm micropump as an active fluidic control approach for the on-demand generation of droplets with precisely defined size, frequency and timing. In contrast to valve-actuated devices that only modulate the flow of the dispersed phase being continuously injected, this integrated micropump allows the combination of fluidic transport and modulation to achieve active control of droplet generation. A distinct characteristic of this method compared to the valve modulated droplet formation processes is that it enables independent control of droplet generation frequency by adjusting the pumping frequency and droplet size by flow conditions. We also demonstrated the generation of complex droplet patterns through programming the pumping configurations and the application to multi-volume digital PCR for precise and quantitative detection of genetic targets. Overall, our results suggest that the pump-based droplet microfluidics provide a robust platform for programmable active droplet generation which could facilitate the development of high-performance chemical and biological assays.

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