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Development of a Simplified Microfluidic Injector for Analysis of Droplet Content via Capillary Electrophoresis

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posted on 21.10.2014, 00:00 by Michael F. DeLaMarre, Scott A. Shippy
Droplet-based microfluidic platforms sequester nanoliter to picoliter samples in an immiscible carrier phase and have gained notoriety for their ability to be used in laboratory procedures on a miniaturized scale. Recently, droplet microfluidics has been used to prevent zone diffusion in time-resolved sample collection methods and in separation techniques. The assay of droplets remains challenging, however, because the carrier phase is often incompatible with separation techniques. In this work, we report the development of a droplet injector for capillary electrophoresis (CE) which delivers 750 pL droplets to a channel for separation while excluding the fluorous carrier phase. This design is simple compared to previous reports, consisting of only two straight channels and no additional working parts such as membranes or valves. To demonstrate a proof-of-concept and characterize performance, riboflavin was used as a biologically relevant model molecule. Droplets containing a step change in riboflavin concentration were injected and mobilized by CE. The current method is capable of riboflavin peak % relative standard deviations (RSDs) down to 4.4% and temporal resolutions down to 15 s. Human urine samples containing riboflavin and its photolysis products were successfully separated and found to be chemically compatible with the injector. Our simplified design could improve robustness and ruggedness and may allow device construction via nontraditional fabrication techniques.