The objective of the research is to investigate and promote the use of pico-liter scale droplets for encapsulation and monitoring of bacterial growth, mammalian cell growth, and PCR reactions. The approach is to ascertain both experimentally and numerically, the device design, mechanisms of encapsulation, and biological reactions inside the droplets. The research is expected to result in increased understanding of the fundamental mechanisms as well as realization of practical devices for point-of-care diagnostics and screening applications. The intellectual merits of the proposed work include the development of novel numerical techniques for simulation of the cell encapsulation process, obtaining fundamental insight into the process of cell encapsulation in the droplets of cell media or buffer, examining the effect of ionic liquid medium on the cells, a systematic experiment and simulation approach to design the devices for optical capture, and whether single cell reactions can be interrogated inside these droplets. The broader impact of the proposed work is that a further understanding of the mechanism of cell encapsulation process in micro-channels will directly guide the use of droplets as reaction vessels for cells and molecules in biochemical applications. Thus, the proposed study can serves as generic platform that allows the biological activities to be monitored in real time using electrical means resulting in compact devices. The devices would be used to demonstrate fundamentals of microfluidics and bioassays to high school students in science fairs at OSU and as part of a microfluidic module in a 2 week long summer school at UIUC.

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University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
United States
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