An acoustofluidic platform for non-contact trapping of cell-laden hydrogel droplets compatible with optical microscopy

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Production of cell-laden hydrogel droplets as miniaturized niches for 3D cell culture provides a new route for cell-based assays. Such production can be enabled by droplet microfluidics and here we present a droplet trapping system based on bulk acoustic waves for handling hydrogel droplets in a continuous flow format. The droplet trapping system consists of a glass capillary equipped with a small piezoelectric transducer. By applying ultrasound (4 MHz), a localized acoustic standing wave field is generated in the capillary, trapping the droplets in a well-defined cluster above the transducer area. The results show that the droplet cluster can be retained at flow rates of up to 76 μl/min, corresponding to an average flow speed of 3.2 mm/s. The system allows for important operations such as continuous perfusion and/or addition of chemical reagents to the encapsulated cells with in situ optical access. This feature is demonstrated by performing on-chip staining of the cell nuclei. The key advantages of this trapping method are that it is label-free and gentle and thus well-suited for biological applications. Moreover, the droplets can easily be released on-demand, which facilitates downstream analysis. It is envisioned that the presented droplet trapping system will be a valuable tool for a wide range of multistep assays as well as long-term monitoring of cells encapsulated in gel-based droplets.


Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • Uppsala universitet
  • National University of Singapore
  • Lund University

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Annan medicinsk bioteknologi
Utgåva nummer4
StatusPublished - 2019 jul 11
Peer review utfördJa