Three-dimensional parallelization of microfluidic droplet generators for a litre per hour volume production of single emulsions†
This paper looks at the design, fabrication and characterization of stackable microfluidic emulsion generators, with coefficients of variation as low as ~6% and with production rates as high as ~1 L h−1. This work reports the highest throughput reported in the literature for a microfluidic device with simultaneous operation of liquid–liquid droplet generators. The device was achieved by stacking several layers of 128 flow-focusing droplet generators, organized in a circular array. These layers are interconnected via through-holes and fed with designated fractal distribution networks. The proposed layers were milled on poly(methylmethacrylate) (PMMA) sheets and the stack was thermo-compression bonded to create a three-dimensional device with a high density of generators and an integrated hydraulic manifold. The effect of stacking multiple layers was studied and the results show that fabrication accuracy has a greater impact on the dispersity of the emulsion than the addition of more layers to the stack. Particle crystallization of drugs was also demonstrated as a possible application of this technology in industry.