Rapid and flexible actuation of droplets via a low-adhesive and deformable magnetically functionalized membrane

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Swift and convenient handling of discrete micro-droplets on digital microfluidics platform has recently attracted plentiful interest in high-throughput bio/chemical analysis. In this work, we developed a novel and facile approach to manipulate the micro-droplet based on a hydrophobic and low-adhesive magnetically functionalized polydimethylsiloxane (MF-PDMS) membrane. The platform is composed of the MF-PDMS membrane as the substrate, integrated with non-magnetic PDMS micro-pillar arrays on-top to ensure the low adhesion between the platform and the resident drops. With applied magnetic field, the localized membrane deformation could induce the unbalanced force imposed on the micro-droplet, leading to free rolling-off for flexible control including the position and velocity, etc. We have experimentally verified that the proposed avenue could be successfully applied for kinds of on-chip micro-droplet manipulations, such as droplet merging, parallel manipulation, flexible trajectory control. With the flexibility and maximum velocity reported herein (~ 79 ± 6 mm/s), we believe that the presented platform could be potentially applied for biological or chemical analysis where precise manipulation of large amounts of individual droplets is critical.

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The authors appreciate the support of the Science and Technology Development Fund from Macau SAR (FDCT-073/2016/A2) and Start-up Research Grant (SRG2016-00067-FST) from the Research and Development Administration Office at University of Macau.

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Correspondence to Bingpu Zhou.

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Chen, G., Gao, Y., Li, M. et al. Rapid and flexible actuation of droplets via a low-adhesive and deformable magnetically functionalized membrane. J Mater Sci 53, 13253–13263 (2018).

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