Droplet encapsulation of electrokinetically-focused analytes without loss of resolution†
Lab-on-chip electrokinetic focusing and separation techniques are widely used in several scientific fields. In a number of cases, these techniques have been combined with a selective analyte extraction for off-chip analysis. Nevertheless, the usability of the extracts is limited by diffusion which reduces the separation resolution. In this paper we propose the integration of a droplet generator capable of continuous or on-demand generation and extraction of electrokinetically separated and focused analytes. We demonstrate the selective droplet extraction of model analytes separated and concentrated via ion concentration polarization focusing (ICPF). We report extracted droplets with 1000-fold increased concentration. Importantly, the droplet generator does not interrupt the ICPF process making it suitable for integration with the majority of electrokinetic separation techniques.