Microfluidic cap-to-dispense (μCD): a universal microfluidic–robotic interface for automated pipette-free high-precision liquid handling†
Microfluidic devices have been increasingly used for low-volume liquid handling operations. However, laboratory automation of such delicate devices has lagged behind due to the lack of world-to-chip (macro-to-micro) interfaces. In this paper, we have presented the first pipette-free robotic–microfluidic interface using a microfluidic-embedded container cap, referred to as a microfluidic cap-to-dispense (μCD), to achieve a seamless integration of liquid handling and robotic automation without any traditional pipetting steps. The μCD liquid handling platform offers a generic and modular way to connect the robotic device to standard liquid containers. It utilizes the high accuracy and high flexibility of the robotic system to recognize, capture and position; and then using microfluidic adaptive printing it can achieve high-precision on-demand volume distribution. With its modular connectivity, nanoliter processability, high adaptability, and multitask capacity, μCD shows great potential as a generic robotic–microfluidic interface for complete pipette-free liquid handling automation.