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Impedance feedback control of microfluidic valves for reliable post processing combinatorial droplet injection.

ABSTRACT

Droplet microfluidics has found use in many biological assay applications as a means of high-throughput sample processing. One of the challenges of the technology, however, is the ability to control and merge droplets on-demand as they flow through the microdevices. It is in the interest of developing lab-on-chip devices to be able to combinatorically program additive mixing steps for more complex multistep and multiplex assays. Existing technologies to merge droplets are either passive in nature or require highly predictable droplet movement for feedforward control, making them vulnerable to errors during high throughput operation. In this paper, we describe and demonstrate a microfluidic valve-based device for the purpose of combinatorial droplet injection at any stage in a multistep assay. Microfluidic valves are used to robustly control fluid flow, droplet generation, and droplet mixing in the device on-demand, while on-chip impedance measurements taken in real time are used as feedback to accurately time the droplet injections. The presented system is contrasted to attempts without feedback, and is shown to be 100% reliable over long durations. Additionally, content detection and discretionary injections are explored and successfully executed.