An on-demand femtoliter droplet dispensing system based on a gigahertz acoustic resonator†
On-demand droplet dispensing systems are indispensable tools in bioanalytical fields, such as microarray fabrication. Biomaterial solutions can be very limited and expensive, so minimizing the use of solution per spot produced is highly desirable. Here, we proposed a novel droplet dispensing method which utilizes a gigahertz (GHz) acoustic resonator to deposit well-defined droplets on-demand. This ultra-high frequency acoustic resonator induces a highly localized and strong body force at the solid–liquid interface, which pushes the liquid to generate a stable and sharp “liquid needle” and further delivers droplets to the target substrate surface by transient contact. This approach is between contact and non-contact methods, thus avoiding some issues of traditional methods (such as nozzle clogging or satellite spots). We demonstrated the feasibility of this approach by fabricating high quality DNA and protein microarrays on glass and flexible substrates. Notably, the spot size can be delicately controlled down to a few microns (femtoliter in volume). Because of the CMOS compatibility, we expect this technique to be readily applied to advanced biofabrication processes.