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Microdroplets Research

We are developing microfluidic microdroplet reactors for applications in biology and material sciences. The central concept is to carry out experiments in small water droplets, separated from each other by a continuous oil phase, within a microfluidic channel. This requires the development of devices for the generation and manipulation of droplets, and new analytical approaches to follow what is happening, on a very small scale, inside the droplets. Making microdroplets


We are collaborating with Professor Alison Smith (Department of Plant Sciences) using microdroplets for algal strain selection to identify variants that produce high levels of lipids or secrete high concentrations of ethanol.

Cell growth in microdroplets
Two images of the same microdroplets showing the growth of microalgae, C. reinhardtiicells, inside the droplets: Fig (i) taken on Day 3, Fig (ii) taken on Day 6. Quantitative tracking of the growth of individual algal cells in microdroplet compartments. [Integr.Biol. 2011]


A second collaboration is with Professor Oren Scherman (Melville Polymer Synthesis Laboratory) to develop new approaches to encapsulation, using supramolecular chemistry to make capsules and capsules-within-capsules.

Capsule image
Schematic representation of the proposed microcapsule formation process from the initial droplet stage with a diameter ddroplet to the dehydrated stable capsules of a diameter of dcapsule. One-Step Fabrication of Supramolecular Microcapsules from Microfluidic Droplets. [Science, 2012]


Our research has contributed to two University spinout companies:
Sphere Fluidics            AQDOT

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