APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Pico- and nano-liter dispensing devices
- Droplet microfluidics used for genomic and sequencing sample preparation and analysis
- Minimizes waste
- Reduces costs
- Eliminates the additional steps for dispensing the desired sized droplets on chip
- Prevents the evaporation and merging of droplets
- Enables high-throughput loading of samples
Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories and the Joint BioEnergy Institute have developed a technology using contactless injection of droplets to administer liquid samples onto microfluidic devices. This technology produces microdroplets on demand in the same size scale of the volumes required for microfluidic chips and directly loads the generated droplets on to the chips. The oil contained by the chip helps the droplets to stay intact by preventing evaporation and/or combination with other droplets. Contactless loading uses acoustic, ultrasonic, electrospray, hydrodynamic, laser-induced forward transfer, piezoelectric, electrohydrodynamic or extrusion. There are three ways for dispensing including directly targeting onto the microfluidic devices in an air or oil environment, which can be sealed after loading. The dispensed droplets can be manipulated without further modification.
Traditional methods for inputting a multitude of samples into a microfluidic chip often result in waste of expensive reagents and sample. This waste is due to a mismatch in the volume that can be reproducibly introduced into a microfluidic chip and the volume typically needed. Additionally, loss by evaporation can be a challenge for very small volume reservoirs. This new technology has advantages over the existing method because it reduces waste, is a more concise process, and prevents evaporation and merging of the droplets while significantly reducing costs.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle
STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.