Printed droplet microfluidics for on demand dispensing of picoliter droplets and cells

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Aug 15;114(33):8728-8733. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1704020114. Epub 2017 Jul 31.


Although the elementary unit of biology is the cell, high-throughput methods for the microscale manipulation of cells and reagents are limited. The existing options either are slow, lack single-cell specificity, or use fluid volumes out of scale with those of cells. Here we present printed droplet microfluidics, a technology to dispense picoliter droplets and cells with deterministic control. The core technology is a fluorescence-activated droplet sorter coupled to a specialized substrate that together act as a picoliter droplet and single-cell printer, enabling high-throughput generation of intricate arrays of droplets, cells, and microparticles. Printed droplet microfluidics provides a programmable and robust technology to construct arrays of defined cell and reagent combinations and to integrate multiple measurement modalities together in a single assay.

Keywords: cell printing; droplet array; droplet microfluidics; fluorescence-activated droplet sorting; single-cell analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Assay / methods
  • Cell Count / methods
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Humans
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / methods*
  • Microfluidics / methods*
  • Printing / methods