Fusion of microlitre water-in-oil droplets for simple, fast and green chemical assays.

The Analyst

PubMedID: 26040707

Chiu SH, Urban PL. Fusion of microlitre water-in-oil droplets for simple, fast and green chemical assays. Analyst. 2015;.
A simple format for microscale chemical assays is proposed. It does not require the use of test tubes, microchips or microtiter plates. Microlitre-range (ca. 0. 7-5. 0 µL) aqueous droplets are generated by a commercial micropipette in a non-polar matrix inside a Petri dish. When two droplets are pipetted nearby, they spontaneously coalesce within seconds, priming a chemical reaction. Detection of the reaction product is accomplished by colorimetry, spectrophotometry, or fluorimetry using simple light-emitting diode (LED) arrays as the sources of monochromatic light, while chemiluminescence detection of the analytes present in single droplets is conducted in the dark. A smartphone camera is used as the detector. The limits of detection obtained for the developed in-droplet assays are estimated to be: 1. 4 nmol (potassium permanganate by colorimetry), 1. 4 pmol (fluorescein by fluorimetry), and 580 fmol (sodium hypochlorite by chemiluminescence detection). The format has successfully been used to monitor the progress of chemical and biochemical reactions over time with sub-second resolution. A semi-quantitative analysis of ascorbic acid using Tillman's reagent is presented. A few tens of individual droplets can be scanned in parallel. Rapid switching of the LED light sources with different wavelengths enables a spectral analysis of multiple droplets. Very little solid waste is produced. The assay matrix is readily recycled, thus the volume of liquid waste produced each time is also very small (typically, 1-10 µL per analysis). Various water-immiscible translucent liquids can be used as the reaction matrix: including silicone oil, 1-octanol as well as soybean cooking oil.