Research ArticleChemistry

Combinatorial microfluidic droplet engineering for biomimetic material synthesis

Science Advances  07 Oct 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 10, e1600567
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600567

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Abstract

Although droplet-based systems are used in a wide range of technologies, opportunities for systematically customizing their interface chemistries remain relatively unexplored. This article describes a new microfluidic strategy for rapidly tailoring emulsion droplet compositions and properties. The approach uses a simple platform for screening arrays of droplet-based microfluidic devices and couples this with combinatorial selection of the droplet compositions. Through the application of genetic algorithms over multiple screening rounds, droplets with target properties can be rapidly generated. The potential of this method is demonstrated by creating droplets with enhanced stability, where this is achieved by selecting carrier fluid chemistries that promote titanium dioxide formation at the droplet interfaces. The interface is a mixture of amorphous and crystalline phases, and the resulting composite droplets are biocompatible, supporting in vitro protein expression in their interiors. This general strategy will find widespread application in advancing emulsion properties for use in chemistry, biology, materials, and medicine.

Keywords
  • Biomineralization
  • bio-inspired
  • microfluidics
  • genetic algorithm
  • combinatorial
  • emulsion
  • artificial cell

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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