Droplet Microfluidics for Screening and Sensing

Presented by Robert T. Kennedy, PhD, Chair and Professor of Chemistry, Pharmacology and Macromolecular Science and Engineering, University of Michigan
Fri, 27 January, 2023 2:00pm - 3:00pm

Join the GW Department of Chemistry for a seminar featuring Robert T. Kennedy, PhD, from the University of Michigan. Kennedy will discuss droplet microfluidics for screening and sensing, drawing from his background in chemistry, engineering, pharmacology and macromolecular science. Virtual and in-person options will be offered.


Manipulating samples as droplets within microfluidic devices has emerged as an interesting approach for chemical analysis and screening. In segmented flow, one embodiment of this technology, nanoliter samples are manipulated in microfluidic channels as plugs separated by an immiscible fluid, such as air or fluorinated oil. These plugs serve as miniature test-tubes in which reactions can be performed at high throughput. Microfluidic tools have been developed to split, dilute, extract, and filter such plugs at rates >10 samples/s. We have developed methods to analyze plug content by mass spectrometry (MS). A natural application of this technology is for high throughput experimentation. By coupling droplet manipulation with MS detection, it is possible to greatly reduce reagent consumption and eliminate the need for fluorescent labels or coupled reactions. One area where we have applied this technology is for catalyst discovery. Biocatalysts can be developed by screening enzyme variants to identify active enzymes for a given reaction. Similarly, traditional organic catalysts require extensive exploration of reaction conditions and substrates to develop. We have developed droplet based approaches to decrease the time required to develop such catalysts using droplet-MS. Droplet technology can also be used for chemical monitoring or sensing applications. In this approach samples emerging from a miniaturized sampling device are segmented for later analysis. We have used this method to monitor neurotransmitter dynamics in the brain. The technology and application to studies of neurotransmission will be demonstrated.

Science & Engineering Hall 800 22nd Street, NW Washington DC 20052
Room: B1220

Open to everyone.

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