Static droplet array for culturing single live adherent cells in an isolated chemical microenvironment†
We present here a new method to easily and reliably generate an array of hundreds of dispersed nanoliter-volume semi-droplets for single-cells culture and analysis. The liquid segmentation step occurs directly in indexed traps by a tweezer-like mechanism and is stabilized by spatial confinement. Unlike common droplet-based techniques, the semi-droplet wets its surrounding trap walls thus supporting the culturing of both adherent and non-adherent cells. To eliminate cross-droplet cell migration and chemical cross-talk each semi-droplet is separated from a nearby trap by an ∼80 pL air plug. The overall setup and injection procedure takes less than 10 minutes, is insensitive to fabrication defects and supports cell recovery for downstream analysis. The method offers a new approach to easily capture, image and culture single cells in a chemically isolated microenvironment as a preliminary step towards high-throughput single-cell assays.