Droplet microfluidics enables the production of uniform picoliter and nanoliter water-in-oil droplets. Droplets are ideal for the miniaturization of reactions and therefore ultra-high throughput experiments in chemistry and biology. We are developing microfluidic approaches to ask biological questions that are otherwise technically infeasible.
- Targeted Single-Cell RNA and DNA Sequencing With Fluorescence-Activated Droplet Merger.
- Concentric electrodes improve microfluidic droplet sorting.
- Microfluidic bead encapsulation above 20 kHz with triggered drop formation.
- Finding a helix in a haystack: nucleic acid cytometry with droplet microfluidics.
- Single-Cell RT-PCR in Microfluidic Droplets with Integrated Chemical Lysis.
- Efficient extraction of oil from droplet microfluidic emulsions.
- Measurement of copy number variation in single cancer cells using rapid-emulsification digital droplet MDA.
Droplet sorting is perhaps the most difficult and important droplet microfluidic unit operation. Like FACS, it allows for the isolation of distinct subsets of droplets containing cells. However, droplet sorting enables new biological experiments because droplet contents do not mix. This means that cells, proteins, and nucleic acids can be assayed individually, isolated using a droplet sorter, and studied. We have computationally designed one of the most advanced and reliable droplet sorters to date and are applying this tool widely in our research.
Ultra-fast droplet processing
Some biological applications require speeds that push drop-making to its fluidic limits. To overcome this challenge, we have developed jet-triggered approaches using air bubbles or hydrogel beads to break fluidic jets and form monodispersed droplets. We are leveraging this approach to study ultra-rare populations of cells infected with virus.
Single cell droplet workflows
Combining droplet unit operations (dropmaking, merger, splitting, sorting, etc.) with molecular reactions (TaqMan PCR, reverse transcription, etc) can be used to create new single cell workflows. Such workflows enable high-throughput screens, new single cell sequencing applications, and the detection of rare cell populations based on RNA or DNA biomarkers.