National Research Council of Canada. Medical Devices
This paper describes on-the-fly physical property changes of aqueous two-phase systems (ATPS) in microfluidic devices. The properties and phases of the ATPS are modulated on-demand by using a centrifugal microfluidic device filled with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) and dextran (DEX) solutions. By use of the centrifugal force and active pneumatic controls provided by a centrifugal microfluidic platform (CMP), PEG–DEX mixtures are manipulated and processed inside simple thermoplastic microfluidic devices. First, we experimentally demonstrate an on-chip ATPS transition from two phases to a single phase and vice versa by dynamically changing the concentration of the solution to bring ATPS across the binodal curve. We also demonstrate a density modulation scheme by introducing an ATPS solution mixed with sodium diatrizoate hydrate, which allows to increase the liquid density. By adding precisely metered volumes of water, we spontaneously change the density of the solution on the CMP and show that density marker microbeads fall into the solution according to their corresponding densities. The measured densities of ATPS show a good agreement with densities of microbeads and analytical plots. The results presented in this paper highlight the tremendous potential of CMPs for performing complex on-chip processing of ATPS. We anticipate that this method will be useful in applications such as microparticle-based plasma protein analysis and blood cell fractionation.