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High-Throughput Aqueous Two-Phase System Droplet Generation by Oil-Free Passive Microfluidics

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posted on 16.08.2018, 18:27 by Mohammad Mastiani, Seokju Seo, Babak Mosavati, Myeongsub Kim
Aqueous two-phase system (ATPS) droplet generation has significant potential in biological and medical applications because of its excellent biocompatibility. However, the ultralow interfacial tension of ATPS makes droplet generation extremely challenging when compared with the conventional water-in-oil (W/O) system. In this paper, we passively produced ATPS droplets with a wide range of droplet size and high production rate without the involvement of an oil phase and external forces. For the first time, we reported important information of the flow rate and capillary (Ca) number for passive, oil-free ATPS droplet generation. It was found that the range of Ca numbers of the continuous phase under the jetting flow regime is 0.3–1.7, as compared to less than 0.1 in the W/O system, indicating the ultralow interfacial tension in ATPS. In addition, we successfully generated ATPS droplets with a radius as small as 7 μm at the maximum frequency up to 300 Hz, which has not been achieved in previous studies. The size and generation frequency of ATPS droplets can be controlled independently by adjusting the inlet pressures and corresponding flow rates. We found that the droplet size is correlated with the pressure and flow rate ratios with the power-law exponents of 0.8 and 0.2, respectively.