A digital microfluidic platform for performing heterogeneous sandwich immunoassays based on efficient handling of magnetic beads is presented in this paper. This approach is based on manipulation of discrete droplets of samples and reagents using electrowetting without the need for channels where the droplets are free to move laterally. Droplet-based manipulation of magnetic beads therefore does not suffer from clogging of channels. Immunoassays on a digital microfluidic platform require the following basic operations: bead attraction, bead washing, bead retention, and bead resuspension. Several parameters such as magnetic field strength, pull force, position, and buffer composition were studied for effective bead operations. Dilution-based washing of magnetic beads was demonstrated by immobilizing the magnetic beads using a permanent magnet and splitting the excess supernatant using electrowetting. Almost 100% bead retention was achieved after 7776-fold dilution-based washing of the supernatant. Efficient resuspension of magnetic beads was achieved by transporting a droplet with magnetic beads across five electrodes on the platform and exploiting the flow patterns within the droplet to resuspend the beads. All the magnetic-bead droplet operations were integrated together to generate standard curves for sandwich heterogeneous immunoassays on human insulin and interleukin-6 (IL-6) with a total time to result of 7 min for each assay.
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