Langmuir, Vol.37, No.3, 1297-1305, 2021
Active Femtoliter Droplet Generation in Microfluidics by Confined Interface Vibration
The precise and effective generation of micron-sized droplets is one of the most common and important issues for droplet-based microfluidics. Active droplet generation makes use of additional energy input in promoting interfacial instabilities for droplet generation. Here, we report a new technique for the active generation of femtoliter droplets in microfluidic systems using confined interfacial vibration (CIV). The CIV is formed at the orifice of a traditional inkjet nozzle first by pushing the liquid out and then pulling it back. Droplets are pinched off during the withdrawal process, and this is different from the current active droplet generation techniques, which only monodirectionally push the liquid out. Droplets with radius ranging from ca. 1 to 28 mu m can be actively generated by CIV at an orifice with radius 30 mu m, distinguishing from conventional active generation techniques in which the droplets are always comparable or slightly bigger than the orifice. Experimental results showed that the droplet volume can be customized by controlling the intensity of the CIV. The inherent digital nature of the inkjet technique enables easy and precise regulating of the droplet volume, making it seamlessly compatible with the digital microfluidic systems.