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J Vis Exp. 2016 May 5;(111). doi: 10.3791/54010.

Multicolor Fluorescence Detection for Droplet Microfluidics Using Optical Fibers.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California, San Francisco;
Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California, San Francisco.
Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, University of California, San Francisco.


Fluorescence assays are the most common readouts used in droplet microfluidics due to their bright signals and fast time response. Applications such as multiplex assays, enzyme evolution, and molecular biology enhanced cell sorting require the detection of two or more colors of fluorescence. Standard multicolor detection systems that couple free space lasers to epifluorescence microscopes are bulky, expensive, and difficult to maintain. In this paper, we describe a scheme to perform multicolor detection by exciting discrete regions of a microfluidic channel with lasers coupled to optical fibers. Emitted light is collected by an optical fiber coupled to a single photodetector. Because the excitation occurs at different spatial locations, the identity of emitted light can be encoded as a temporal shift, eliminating the need for more complicated light filtering schemes. The system has been used to detect droplet populations containing four unique combinations of dyes and to detect sub-nanomolar concentrations of fluorescein.

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