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Picoliter agar droplet breakup in microfluidics meets microbiology application: numerical and experimental approaches

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Abstract

Droplet microfluidics has provided lab-on-a-chip platforms with the capability of bacteria encapsulation in biomaterials, controlled culture environments, and live monitoring of growth and proliferation. The droplets are mainly generated from biomaterials with temperature dependent gelation behavior which necessitates stable and size-controlled droplet formation within microfluidics. Here, the biomaterial is agar hydrogel with a non-Newtonian response at operating temperatures below 40 °C, the upper-temperature threshold for cells and pathogens. The size of the produced droplets and the formation regimes are examined when the agar is injected at a constant temperature of 37 °C with agar concentrations of 0.5%, 1%, and 2% and different flow rate ratios of the dispersed phase to the continuous phase (φ: 0.1 to 1). The numerical simulations show that φ and the capillary number (Ca) are the key parameters controlling the agar droplet size and formation regime, from dripping to jetting. Also, increasing the agar concentration produces smaller droplets. The simulation data were validated against experimental agar droplet generation and transport in microfluidics. This work helps to understand the physics of droplet generation in droplet microfluidic systems operating with non-Newtonian fluids. Pathogenic bacteria were successfully cultured and monitored in high resolution in agar droplets for further research in antibiotic susceptibility testing in bacteremia and urinary tract infection.

Graphical abstract: Picoliter agar droplet breakup in microfluidics meets microbiology application: numerical and experimental approaches

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
24 Mar 2020
Accepted
06 May 2020
First published
08 May 2020

Lab Chip, 2020, Advance Article
Article type
Paper

Picoliter agar droplet breakup in microfluidics meets microbiology application: numerical and experimental approaches

A. Khater, O. Abdelrehim, M. Mohammadi, M. Azarmanesh, M. Janmaleki, R. Salahandish, A. Mohamad and A. Sanati-Nezhad, Lab Chip, 2020, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/D0LC00300J

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