Electrode‑assisted trapping and of droplets on hydrophilic in a hydrophobic microchannel

Arjen M. Pit, Sander Bonestroo, Daniël Wijnperle, Michael H.G. Duits, Frieder G. Mugele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
76 Downloads (Pure)


In two-phase flow microfluidics, there is an increasing interest in technologies which enable the encapsulation of biological cells into aqueous drops and the subsequent study of their molecular (excretion or lysis) products. One not yet available but very promising analysis method is the use of biospecific surface patches embedded in the wall of microfluidic channels. In this paper, we tackle some technological challenges encountered in the development of such applications. In the detection protocol, each drop must be enabled to wet the designated patch, be held in contact long enough for biomolecular detection and subsequently be released. This is engineered via a combination of well-defined chemical sites in the walls of the flow channel and insulated microelectrodes. The tunability of the local electric field allows to modify the competition between chemical (pinning) forces which tend to immobilize the drop and hydrodynamic forces which oppose this process. We developed a prototype microfluidic device which offers this functionality. A channel structure is sandwiched between an actuation surface with electrowetting (EW) electrodes on one side and a detector surface with a hydrophilic patch amidst a hydrophobic environment on the other. Two pairs of carefully aligned EW electrodes are used: one for drop adherence and another one for the subsequent release. We demonstrate these operations and discuss the required voltage signals in terms of the forces on the drop. Finally, we discuss possible steps for further improvement in the device.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-12
JournalMicrofluidics and nanofluidics
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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