Block-and-break generation of microdroplets with fixed volume

Biomicrofluidics. 2013 Apr 10;7(2):24108. doi: 10.1063/1.4801637. eCollection 2013.


We introduce a novel type of droplet generator that produces droplets of a volume set by the geometry of the droplet generator and not by the flow rates of the liquids. The generator consists of a classic T-junction with a bypass channel. This bypass directs the continuous fluid around the forming droplets, so that they can fill the space between the inlet of the dispersed phase and the exit of the bypass without breaking. Once filled, the dispersed phase blocks the exit of the bypass and is squeezed by the continuous fluid and broken off from the junction. We demonstrate the fixed-volume droplet generator for (i) the formation of monodisperse droplets from a source of varying flow rates, (ii) the formation of monodisperse droplets containing a gradation of solute concentration, and (iii) the parallel production of monodisperse droplets.