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Collision and Coalescence of Single Attoliter Oil Droplets on a Pipet Nanopore

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posted on 05.02.2018, 00:00 authored by Christopher G. Gunderson, Zhuoyu Peng, Bo Zhang
We describe the use of a quartz pipet nanopore to study the collision and coalescence of individual emulsion oil droplets and their subsequent nanopore translocation. Collision and coalescence of single toluene droplets at a nanopore orifice are driven primarily by electroosmosis and electrophoresis and lead to the fast growth of a trapped oil droplet. This results in a stepwise current response due to the coalesced oil droplet increasing its volume and its ability to partially block the nanopore’s ionic current, allowing us to use the resistive-pulse method to resolve single droplet collisions. Further growth of the trapped oil droplet leads to a complete blockage of the nanopore and a nearly 100% current decay. The trapped oil droplet shows enormous mechanical stability at lower voltages and stays in its trapped status for hundreds of seconds. An increased voltage can be used to drive the trapped droplet into the pipet pore within several milliseconds. Simultaneous fluorescence imaging and amperometry were performed to examine droplet collision, coalescence, and translocation, further confirming the proposed mechanism of droplet–nanopore interaction. Moreover, we demonstrate the unique ability to perform fast voltammetric measurements on a nanopore-supported attoliter oil droplet and study its voltage-driven ion transfer processes.