Particle-Templated Emulsification for Microfluidics-Free Digital Biology

Anal Chem. 2018 Aug 21;90(16):9813-9820. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.8b01759. Epub 2018 Aug 1.


The compartmentalization of reactions in monodispersed droplets is valuable for applications across biology. However, the requirement of microfluidics to partition the sample into monodispersed droplets is a significant barrier that impedes implementation. Here, we introduce particle-templated emulsification, a method to encapsulate samples in monodispersed emulsions without microfluidics. By vortexing a mixture of hydrogel particles and sample solution, we encapsulate the sample in monodispersed emulsions that are useful for most droplet applications. We illustrate the method with ddPCR and single cell culture. The ability to encapsulate samples in monodispersed droplets without microfluidics should facilitate the implementation of compartmentalized reactions in biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biology / methods*
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • DNA / analysis
  • Emulsions / chemistry*
  • Hydrogels / chemistry*
  • Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / isolation & purification


  • Emulsions
  • Hydrogels
  • DNA