Trio of HOT articles! Reversible phase transitions, super-strong adhesive and flow-switching for programmable gradients

With the Introducing series and other exciting news on the blog in the last couple of weeks, we’ve had no time for HOT articles. Here are three in brief all at once and all free to access for 4 weeks*!

 1. A team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and The University of Tennessee, USA, led by Patrick Collier, generate femtolitre aqueous two-phase droplets in a microfluidic oil channel and demonstrate that a single droplet can be isolated, monitored and transformed reversibly. This is part of recent research efforts to mimic the phase separation that naturally occurs to create the microcompartments inside a cell’s cytoplasm. This device does not require continuous jets or high-frequency droplet formation to create the compartments of differing compositions. The researchers instead concentrated on using the tension between the oil and aqueous phases. They can reversibly generate core–shell microbeads, which could be of interest in controlled drug release.

Aqueous two-phase microdroplets with reversible phase transitions
Jonathan B. Boreyko, Prahya Mruetusatorn, Scott T. Retterer and C. Patrick Collier 
DOI: 10.1039/C3LC41122B


 2. As featured on the colourful back cover of Issue 7, Sung Gap Im’s group at KAIST, South Korea, have developed a doubly cross-linked nano-adhesive system (DCNA). The aim was a super-strong adhesive system resistant to tough chemical and thermal conditions. They use initiated chemical vapour deposition (iCVD) to demonstrate their new secure sealing technique in the fabrication of microfluidic devices with flexible and rigid substrates with high strength and stability. This is doubly cross-linked due to the epoxy groups on both sides of the substrates, giving strong adhesion.

A doubly cross-linked nano-adhesive for the reliable sealing of flexible microfluidic devices
Jae Bem You, Kyoung-Ik Min, Bora Lee, Dong-Pyo Kim and Sung Gap Im  
DOI: 10.1039/C2LC41266G


 3. The third and final HOT article featured on the inside back cover of Issue 7 comes from Savaş Tay and Tino Frank at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. The cell culture platform in this HOT article is able to support a programmable diffusion-based gradient generator. Long-term experiments with 30 different gradients could be done in parallel. The microfluidic chip uses membrane valves and automation to reduce error and increase simplicity. A wide variety of cell types can be cultured in this total analysis system in flow-free conditions.

Flow-switching allows independently programmable, extremely stable, high-throughput diffusion-based gradients
Tino Frank and Savaş Tay  
DOI: 10.1039/C3LC41076E

*Free access to individuals is provided through an RSC Publishing personal account. Registration is quick, free and simple


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