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Passive removal of immiscible spacers from segmented flows in a microfluidic probe
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Microfluidic probes (MFPs) are a class of non-contact, scanning microfluidic devices that hydrodynamically confine nanoliter volumes of a processing liquid on a surface immersed in another liquid. So far only chemical processes using a single processing liquid have been implemented using MFPs. In this letter, we present the design and implementation of a probe head that allows segmented two-phase flows to be used, which will enable different chemical species to be sequentially delivered to a surface in defined volumes and concentrations. Central to this probe head is a spacer-removal module comprising blocking pillars in the injection channel, a bypass and an orifice leading to the aspiration channel. We present a capillarity-based analytical model that provides insight into the functionality of the module based on geometrical parameters. In addition, we study the difference between two- and three-channel modules and predict a
reduction in fluctuation of the footprint of the confined liquid for the three-channel module. We show that such a module with a
pillar spacing, a
orifice width, and an oblique angle of
can remove immiscible spacers (Fluorinert FC-40) from an aqueous flow at a rate of up to 15 spacers per second while maintaining hydrodynamic confinement of processing liquid.
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