Ultrasonic techniques 'can pattern water-based droplets for biochemical uses'

Engineering

Ultrasonic technology has been used to accurately pattern thousands of microscopic water-based droplets in a new study with numerous potential research applications.

A team from the University of Bristol has developed an innovative non-contact method to pattern chemically encoded aqueous droplets into a two-dimensional array under water.

“Scientists have developed a method of using ultrasonic forces to accurately pattern microscopic water-based droplets, offering numerous possible biochemical applications.“

By applying ultrasonic forces to the droplet technology, it was possible to spontaneously create a uniform pattern of low-surface-tension functional water-based droplets, allowing for high-throughput analyses in water for drug discovery, clinical diagnostics and protein crystallisation.

Current patterning technologies require oil and water mixtures or exposure on a dry surface, making water-based biochemical reactions very difficult to perform. This method gets around existing problems, allowing droplet size, spacing and surface-attachment properties to be dynamically controlled and reversed if necessary.

This could make it possible to perform thousands of microscale experiments simultaneously, leading to more efficient lab-on-a-chip technologies.

Bruce Drinkwater, professor of ultrasonics and head of the ultrasonics and nondestructive testing research group, said: "The uniformity of the droplets is amazing. I'm convinced this technology will have many applications in the next generation of lab-on-a-chip applications.”

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