Impedimetric detection and lumped element modelling of a hemagglutination assay in microdroplets†
Droplet-based microfluidic systems offer tremendous benefits for high throughput biochemical assays. Despite the wide use of electrical detection for microfluidic systems, application of impedimetric sensing for droplet systems is very limited. This is mainly due to the insulating oil-based continuous phase used for most aqueous samples of interest. We present modelling and experimental verification of impedimetric detection of hemagglutination in microdroplets. We have detected agglutinated red blood cells in microdroplets and screened whole blood samples for multiple antibody sera using conventional microelectrodes. We were able to form antibody and whole blood microdroplets in PDMS microchannels without any tedious chemical surface treatment. Following the injection of a blood sample into antibody droplets, we have detected the agglutination-positive and negative droplets in an automated manner. In order to understand the characteristics of impedimetric detection inside microdroplets, we have developed the lumped electrical circuit equivalent of an impedimetric droplet content detection system. The empirical lumped element values are in accordance with similar models developed for single phase electrical impedance spectroscopy systems. The presented approach is of interest for label-free, quantitative analysis of droplets. In addition, the standard electronic equipment used for detection allows miniaturized detection circuitries that can be integrated with a fluidic system for a quantitative microdroplet-based hemagglutination assay that is conventionally performed in well plates.