Current commercialization status of electrowetting-on-dielectric (EWOD) digital microfluidics
The emergence of electrowetting-on-dielectric (EWOD) in the early 2000s made the once-obscure electrowetting phenomenon practical and led to numerous activities over the last two decades. As an eloquent microscale liquid handling technology that gave birth to digital microfluidics, EWOD has served as the basis for many commercial products over two major application areas: optical, such as liquid lenses and reflective displays, and biomedical, such as DNA library preparation and molecular diagnostics. A number of research or start-up companies (e.g., Phillips Research, Varioptic, Liquavista, and Advanced Liquid Logic) led the early commercialization efforts and eventually attracted major companies from various industry sectors (e.g., Corning, Amazon, and Illumina). Although not all of the pioneering products became an instant success, the persistent growth of liquid lenses and the recent FDA approvals of biomedical analyzers proved that EWOD is a powerful tool that deserves a wider recognition and more aggressive exploration. This review presents the history around major EWOD products that hit the market to show their winding paths to commercialization and summarizes the current state of product development to peek into the future. In providing the readers with a big picture of commercializing EWOD and digital microfluidics technology, our goal is to inspire further research exploration and new entrepreneurial adventures.