US20100022414A1 - Droplet Libraries - Google Patents

Droplet Libraries Download PDF

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Publication number
US20100022414A1
US20100022414A1 US12504764 US50476409A US2010022414A1 US 20100022414 A1 US20100022414 A1 US 20100022414A1 US 12504764 US12504764 US 12504764 US 50476409 A US50476409 A US 50476409A US 2010022414 A1 US2010022414 A1 US 2010022414A1
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Prior art keywords
droplets
droplet
library
aqueous
emulsion
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
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US12504764
Inventor
Darren Link
Brian Hutchison
Michael Samuels
Michael Weiner
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Raindance Technologies Inc
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Raindance Technologies Inc
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    • B01F3/08Mixing, e.g. dispersing, emulsifying, according to the phases to be mixed liquids with liquids; Emulsifying
    • B01F3/0807Emulsifying
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    • B01F5/0609Mixing tubes, e.g. the material being submitted to a substantially radial movement or to a movement partially in reverse direction
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Abstract

The present invention generally relates to droplet libraries and to systems and methods for the formation of libraries of droplets. The present invention also relates to methods utilizing these droplet libraries in various biological, chemical, or diagnostic assays.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • The present application claims priority to, and the benefit of, U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/081,930, filed Jul. 18, 2008. The contents of this application is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • FIELD OF INVENTION
  • The present invention generally relates to droplet libraries and to systems and methods for the formation of libraries of droplets. The present invention also relates to methods utilizing these droplet libraries in various biological, chemical, or diagnostic assays.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • The manipulation of fluids to form fluid streams of desired configuration, discontinuous fluid streams, droplets, particles, dispersions, etc., for purposes of fluid delivery, product manufacture, analysis, and the like, is a relatively well-studied art. Microfluidic systems have been described in a variety of contexts, typically in the context of miniaturized laboratory (e.g., clinical) analysis. Other uses have been described as well. For example, International Patent Application Publication Nos. WO 01/89788; WO 2006/040551; WO 2006/040554; WO 2004/002627; WO 2008/063227; WO 2004/091763; WO 2005/021151; WO 2006/096571; WO 2007/089541; WO 2007/081385 and WO 2008/063227.
  • Precision manipulation of streams of fluids with microfluidic devices is revolutionizing many fluid-based technologies. Networks of small channels are a flexible platform for the precision manipulation of small amounts of fluids. However, virtually all microfluidic devices are based on flows of streams of fluids; this sets a limit on the smallest volume of reagent that can effectively be used because of the contaminating effects of diffusion and surface adsorption. As the dimensions of small volumes shrink, diffusion becomes the dominant mechanism for mixing, leading to dispersion of reactants; moreover, surface adsorption of reactants, while small, can be highly detrimental when the concentrations are low and volumes are small. As a result, current microfluidic technologies cannot be reliably used for applications involving minute quantities of reagent; for example, bioassays on single cells or library searches involving single beads are not easily performed. An alternate approach that overcomes these limitations is the use of aqueous droplets in an immiscible carrier fluid; these provide a well defined, encapsulated microenvironment that eliminates cross contamination or changes in concentration due to diffusion or surface interactions. Droplets provide the ideal microcapsule that can isolate reactive materials, cells, or small particles for further manipulation and study. However, essentially all enabling technology for microfluidic systems developed thus far has focused on single phase fluid flow and there are few equivalent active means to manipulate droplets requiring the development of droplet handling technology. While significant advances have been made in dynamics at the macro- or microfluidic scale, improved techniques and the results of these techniques are still needed. For example, as the scale of these reactors shrinks, contamination effects due to surface adsorption and diffusion limit the smallest quantities that can be used. Confinement of reagents in droplets in an immiscible carrier fluid overcomes these limitations, but demands new fluid-handling technology.
  • The present invention overcomes the current limitations in the field by providing precise, well-defined, droplet libraries which can be utilized alone, or within microfluidic channels and devices, to perform various biological and chemical assays efficiently and effectively, especially at high speeds.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention provides for droplet libraries useful to perform large numbers of assays while consuming only limited amounts of reagents.
  • The present invention provides an emulsion library comprising a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein each droplet is uniform in size and comprises the same aqueous fluid and comprises a different library element. The present invention also provides a method for forming the emulsion library comprising providing a single aqueous fluid comprising different library elements, encapsulating each library element into an aqueous droplet within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein each droplet is uniform in size and comprises the same aqueous fluid and comprises a different library element and pooling the aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, thereby forming an emulsion library.
  • The present invention also provides an emulsion library comprising at least a first aqueous droplet and at least a second aqueous droplet within a fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein the at least first and the at least second droplets are uniform in size and comprise a different aqueous fluid and a different library element. The present invention also provides a method for forming the emulsion library comprising providing at least a first aqueous fluid comprising at least a first library of elements, providing at least a second aqueous fluid comprising at least a second library of elements, encapsulating each element of said at least first library into at least a first aqueous droplet within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, encapsulating each element of said at least second library into at least a second aqueous droplet within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein the at least first and the at least second droplets are uniform in size and comprise a different aqueous fluid and a different library element and pooling the at least first aqueous droplet and the at least second aqueous droplet within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant thereby forming an emulsion library.
  • The present invention provides another emulsion library comprising a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein each droplet is uniform in size and comprises at least a first antibody, and a single element linked to at least a second antibody, wherein said first and second antibodies are different.
  • The present invention provides another emulsion library comprising a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein each droplet is uniform in size and comprises at least a first element linked to at least a first antibody, and at least a second element linked to at least a second antibody, wherein said first and second antibodies are different.
  • In some embodiments, each droplet within each library comprises no more than one library element. In other embodiments, each droplet within each library comprises a plurality of library elements.
  • In some embodiments, the fluorosurfactant comprised within immiscible fluorocarbon oil is a block copolymer consisting of one or more perfluorinated polyether (PFPE) blocks and one or more polyethylene glycol (PEG) blocks. In other embodiments, the fluorosurfactant is a triblock copolymer consisting of a PEG center block covalently bound to two PFPE blocks by amide linking groups.
  • The droplets within each are 10 microns to 100 micros in size. The emulsion library is stable for long term storage. Preferably, the emulsion library is stable at least 30 days.
  • The droplets within each emulsion library can include any library element. Preferably, the library element is a cell, virus, bacteria, yeast, bead, protein, polypeptide, nucleic acid, polynucleotide or small molecule chemical compound. The emulsion library can include any number of library elements.
  • The emulsion libraries can be labeled for unique identification of each library element by any means known in the art. The label can be an optical label, an enzymatic label or a radioactive label. The label can be any detectable label, e.g., a protein, a DNA tag, a dye, a quantum dot or a radio frequency identification tag. Preferably the label is an optical label. The label can be detected by any means known in the art. Preferably, the label is detected by fluorescence polarization, fluorescence intensity, fluorescence lifetime, fluorescence energy transfer, pH, ionic content, temperature or combinations thereof.
  • Unless otherwise defined, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. Although methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the present invention, suitable methods and materials are described below. All publications, patent applications, patents, and other references mentioned herein are incorporated by reference in their entirety. In the case of conflict, the present specification, including definitions, will control. In addition, the materials, methods, and examples are illustrative only and not intended to be limiting.
  • Other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed description and claims.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
  • Non-limiting embodiments of the present invention will be described by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawings, which are schematic and are not intended to be drawn to scale. In the drawings, each identical or nearly identical component illustrated is typically represented by a single numeral. For the purposes of clarity, not every component is labeled in every drawing, nor is every component of each embodiment of the invention shown where illustration is not necessary to allow those of ordinary skill in the art to understand the invention. In the drawings;
  • FIG. 1 is an schematic illustrating the interacting modules of a microfluidic device of the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 is a schematic illustrating a one emulsion library.
  • FIG. 3 is a schematic illustrating an antibody pair library for ELISA Application.
  • FIG. 4 Panel A is a schematic illustrating that the cell in the Protein-Fragment Complementation Assay is not secreting any antigen hence the fluorogenic substrate is not converted into a fluorescent product. Panel B is a schematic showing the conversion to a fluorescent product.
  • FIG. 5 Panel A is a photograph showing droplets containing Ammonium Carboxylate Salt of Krytox 157 FSH 2 Wt % in FC 3283 without PEG amine salt. Panel B is a photograph showing droplets containing PEG 600 Diainmonium Carboxylate Salt of Krytox 157 FSH at 4.0% by volume.
  • FIG. 6 is a schematic illustrating a primer library generation.
  • FIG. 7 is a schematic illustrating enzyme amplified flow cytometry.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION Droplet Libraries
  • Droplet libraries are useful to perform large numbers of assays while consuming only limited amounts of reagents. A “droplet,” as used herein, is an isolated portion of a first fluid that completely surrounded by a second fluid. In some cases, the droplets may be spherical or substantially spherical; however, in other cases, the droplets may be non-spherical, for example, the droplets may have the appearance of “blobs” or other irregular shapes, for instance, depending on the external environment. As used herein, a first entity is “surrounded” by a second entity if a closed loop can be drawn or idealized around the first entity through only the second entity.
  • In general, a droplet library is made up of a number of library elements that are pooled together in a single collection. Libraries may vary in complexity from a single library element to 1015 library elements or more. Each library element is one or more given components at a fixed concentration. The element may be, but is not limited to, cells, virus, bacteria, yeast, beads, amino acids, proteins, polypeptides, nucleic acids, polynucleotides or small molecule chemical compounds. The element may contain an identifier such as a label. The terms “droplet library” or “droplet libraries” are also referred to herein as an “emulsion library” or “emulsion libraries.” These terms are used interchangeably throughout the specification.
  • A cell library element can include, but is not limited to, hybridomas, B-cells, primary cells, cultured cell lines, cancer cells, stem cells, or any other cell type. Cellular library elements are prepared by encapsulating a number of cells from one to tens of thousands in individual droplets. The number of cells encapsulated is usually given by Poisson statistics from the number density of cells and volume of the droplet. However, in some cases the number deviates from Poisson statistics as described in Edd et al., “Controlled encapsulation of single-cells into monodisperse picolitre drops.” Lab Chip, 8(8): 1262-1264, 2008. The discreet nature of cells allows for libraries to be prepared in mass with a plurality of cellular variants all present in a single starting media and then that media is broken up into individual droplet capsules that contain at most one cell. These individual droplets capsules are then combined or pooled to form a library consisting of unique library elements. Cell division subsequent to, or in some embodiments following, encapsulation produces a clonal library element.
  • A bead based library element contains one or more beads, of a given type and may also contain other reagents, such as antibodies, enzymes or other proteins. In the case where all library elements contain different types of beads, but the same surrounding media, the library elements can all be prepared from a single starting fluid or have a variety of starting fluids. In the case of cellular libraries prepared in mass from a collection of variants, such as genomically modified, yeast or bacteria cells, the library elements will be prepared from a variety of starting fluids.
  • Often it is desirable to have exactly one cell per droplet with only a few droplets containing more than one cell when starting with a plurality of cells or yeast or bacteria, engineered to produce variants on a protein. In some cases, variations from Poisson statistics can be achieved to proved an enhanced loading of droplets such that there are more droplets with exactly one cell per droplet and few exceptions of empty droplets or droplets containing more than one cell.
  • Examples of droplet libraries are collections of droplets that have different contents, ranging from beads, cells, small molecules, DNA, primers, antibodies. The droplets range in size from roughly 0.5 micron to 500 micron in diameter, which corresponds to about 1 pico liter to 1 nano liter. However, droplets can be as small as 5 microns and as large as 500 microns. Preferably, the droplets are at less than 100 microns, about 1 micron to about 100 microns in diameter. The most preferred size is about 20 to 40 microns in diameter (10 to 100 picoliters). The preferred properties examined of droplet libraries include osmotic pressure balance, uniform size, and size ranges.
  • The droplets comprised within the droplet library provided by the instant invention are uniform in size. That is, the diameter of any droplet within the library will vary less than 5%, 4%, 3%, 2%, 1% or 0.5% when compared to the diameter of other droplets within the same library. The uniform size of the droplets in the library is critical to maintain the stability and integrity of the droplets and is also essential for the subsequent use of the droplets within the library for the various biological and chemical assays described herein.
  • The droplets comprised within the emulsion libraries of the present invention are contained within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant. In some embodiments, the fluorosurfactant comprised within immiscible fluorocarbon oil is a block copolymer consisting of one or more perfluorinated polyether (PFPE) blocks and one or more polyethylene glycol (PEG) blocks. In other embodiments, the fluorosurfactant is a triblock copolymer consisting of a PEG center block covalently bound to two PFPE blocks by amide linking groups. The presence of the fluorosurfactant (similar to uniform size of the droplets in the library) is critical to maintain the stability and integrity of the droplets and is also essential for the subsequent use of the droplets within the library for the various biological and chemical assays described herein. Fluids (e.g., aqueous fluids, immiscible oils, etc.) and other surfactants that can be utilized in the droplet libraries of the present invention are described in greater detail herein.
  • The droplet libraries of the present invention are very stable and are capable of long-term storage. The droplet libraries are determined to be stable if the droplets comprised within the libraries maintain their structural integrity, that is the droplets do not rupture and elements do not diffuse from the droplets. The droplets libraries are also determined to be stable if the droplets comprised within the libraries do not coalesce spontaneously (without additional energy input, such as electrical fields described in detail herein). Stability can be measured at any temperature. For example, the droplets are very stable and are capable of long-term storage at any temperature; for example, e.g., −70° C., 0° C., 4° C., 37° C., room temperature, 75° C. and 95° C. Specifically, the droplet libraries of the present invention are stable for at least 30 days. More preferably, the droplets are stable for at least 60 days. Most preferably, the droplets are stable for at least 90 days.
  • The present invention provides an emulsion library comprising a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein each droplet is uniform in size and comprises the same aqueous fluid and comprises a different library element. The present invention also provides a method for forming the emulsion library comprising providing a single aqueous fluid comprising different library elements, encapsulating each library element into an aqueous droplet within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein each droplet is uniform in size and comprises the same aqueous fluid and comprises a different library element, and pooling the aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, thereby forming an emulsion library.
  • For example, in one type of emulsion library, all different types of elements (e.g., cells or beads), are pooled in a single source contained in the same medium. After the initial pooling, the cells or beads are then encapsulated in droplets to generate a library of droplets wherein each droplet with a different type of bead or cell is a different library element. The dilution of the initial solution enables the encapsulation process. In some embodiments, the droplets formed will either contain a single cell or bead or will not contain anything, i.e., be empty. In other embodiments, the droplets formed will contain multiple copies of a library element. The cells or beads being encapsulated are generally variants on the same type of cell or bead. In one example, the cells can comprise cancer cells of a tissue biopsy, and each cell type is encapsulated to be screened for genomic data or against different drug therapies. Another example is that 1011 or 1015 different type of bacteria; each having a different plasmid spliced therein, are encapsulated. One example is a bacterial library where each library element grows into a clonal population that secretes a variant on an enzyme.
  • In another example, the emulsion library comprises a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil, wherein a single molecule is encapsulated, such that there is a single molecule contained within a droplet for every 20-60 droplets produced (e.g., 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60 droplets, or any integer in between). Single molecules are encapsulated by diluting the solution containing the molecules to such a low concentration that the encapsulation of single molecules is enabled. In one specific example, a LacZ plasmid DNA was encapsulated at a concentration of 20 fM after two hours of incubation such that there was about one gene in 40 droplets, where 10 μm droplets were made at 10 kHz per second. Formation of these libraries rely on limiting dilutions.
  • The present invention also provides an emulsion library comprising at least a first aqueous droplet and at least a second aqueous droplet within a fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein the at least first and the at least second droplets are uniform in size and comprise a different aqueous fluid and a different library element. The present invention also provides a method for forming the emulsion library comprising providing at least a first aqueous fluid comprising at least a first library of elements, providing at least a second aqueous fluid comprising at least a second library of elements, encapsulating each element of said at least first library into at least a first aqueous droplet within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, encapsulating each element of said at least second library into at least a second aqueous droplet within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein the at least first and the at least second droplets are uniform in size and comprise a different aqueous fluid and a different library element, and pooling the at least first aqueous droplet and the at least second aqueous droplet within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant thereby forming an emulsion library.
  • For example, in one type of emulsion library, there are library elements that have different particles, i.e., cells or beads in a different medium and are encapsulated prior to pooling. As exemplified in FIG. 2, a specified number of library of elements, i.e., n number of different cells or beads, are contained within different mediums. Each of the library elements are separately emulsified and pooled, at which point each of the n number of pooled different library elements are combined and pooled into a single pool. The resultant pool contains a plurality of water-in-oil emulsion droplets each containing a different type of particle.
  • In some embodiments, the droplets formed will either contain a single library element or will not contain anything, i.e., be empty. In other embodiments, the droplets formed will contain multiple copies of a library element. The contents of the beads follow a Poisson distribution, where there is a discrete probability distribution that expresses the probability of a number of events occurring in a fixed period of time if these events occur with a known average rate and independently of the time since the last event. The oils and surfactants used to create the libraries prevents the exchange of the contents of the library between droplets.
  • Examples of assays that utilize these emulsion libraries are ELISA assays. The present invention provides another emulsion library comprising a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein each droplet is uniform in size and comprises at least a first antibody, and a single element linked to at least a second antibody, wherein said first and second antibodies are different. In one example, each library element comprises a different bead, wherein each bead is attached to a number of antibodies and the bead is encapsulated within a droplet that contains a different antibody in solution. These antibodies can then be allowed to form “ELISA sandwiches,” which can be washed and prepared for a ELISA assay. Further, these contents of the droplets can be altered to be specific for the antibody contained therein to maximize the results of the assay. A specific example of an ELSA assay is shown in Example 5 and in FIG. 3.
  • The present invention also provides another emulsion library comprising a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein each droplet is uniform in size and comprises at least a first element linked to at least a first antibody, and at least a second element linked to at least a second antibody, wherein said first and second antibodies are different. In one example of a Protein-Fragment Complementation Assay (PCA), library droplets are prepared to contain a mixture of two different antibodies. Wherein the two antibodies bind with strong affinity to different epitopes of the antigen molecule that is to be detected. Detection is achieved by tethering protein fragments to the each of the antibodies such that when held in proximity the two fragments create an active enzyme capable of turning over a fluorogenic substrate, only in the presence of the antigen. For example, as shown in FIG. 4 Panel A, the cell is not secreting any antigen hence the fluorogenic substrate is not converted into a fluorescent product. By contrast, in Panel B, the cell is secreting the antigen. Hence when the antibodies bind to it the two protein fragments are held in close enough proximity to form an active enzyme. The intensity of the fluorescence signal generated from these sandwiches is indicative of the antigen concentration in the droplet.
  • In another example, of the emulsion library, the library begins with a certain number of library elements, which may contain proteins, enzymes, small molecules and PCR primers, among other reagents. However, there is no Poisson distribution in these droplet libraries, Rather, each library is added to a droplet in a specific concentration. In these droplet libraries, there are a large number of the reagent contained within the droplets. With small molecule chemical compounds, each library element can be the same small molecule chemical compound at different concentrations or be completely different small molecule chemical compound per element. When encapsulating PCR primers there are any number of a single type of primer pairs contained within each droplet.
  • Labels can be used for identification of the library elements of the various types of droplet libraries. Libraries can be labeled for unique identification of each library element by any means known in the art. The label can be an optical label, an enzymatic label or a radioactive label. The label can be any detectable label, e.g., a protein, a DNA tag, a dye, a quantum dot or a radio frequency identification tag, or combinations thereof. Preferably the label is an optical label. The label can be detected by any means known in the art. Preferably, the label is detected by fluorescence polarization, fluorescence intensity, fluorescence lifetime, fluorescence energy transfer, pH, ionic content, temperature or combinations thereof. Various labels and means for detection are described in greater detail herein.
  • Specifically, after a label is added to each of the various library elements, the elements are then encapsulated and each of the droplets contains a unique label so that the library elements may be identified. In one example, by using various combinations of labels and detection methods, it is possible to use two different colors with different intensities or to use a single color at a different intensity and different florescence anisotropy.
  • Optical labels are also utilized in quality control in order to ensure that the droplet libraries are well controlled, and that equal number of each library elements are contained within uniform volumes in each droplet library. After 120 minutes of mixing, using 8-labels in a 96-member library, the average number of droplets is 13,883 for each of the library elements. As Table 1 shows below, there is very little variation between the number of droplets for each library element, i.e., between −0.8% to +1.1%. The slight variation in the number of droplets allows the pooled droplet libraries to be used in any number of assays.
  • TABLE 1
    Element G1 G2 G3 G4 G5 G6 G7 G8
    # drops 13913 13898 14036 13898 13834 13927 13788 13769
    % variation +0.2% 0% +1.1% 0% −0.4% +0.3% −0.7% −0.8%
  • In some quality control examples, 384-member libraries were prepared with eight optical labels; typically 5 to 20 micro-liters of each library element are emulsified into approximately 10 picoliter volume droplets so there are about 1 million droplets of each library element and 384 million droplets in the library.
  • The eight optical labels are a dye at concentrations that increase by a factor of c (where c ranges from about 1.2 to 1.4) from one optical label to the next so that the nth optical label has (c)(n−1) the dye concentration of the lowest concentration. Optical labels are used with concentrations between 10 nM and 1 uM. Typically, the range of optical label concentrations for one series of labels is 1 order of magnitude (e.g., 10 nM to 100 nM with a multiplier of 1.43 for each increasing label concentration). A larger range of droplet label concentrations can also be used. Further, multiplexed two-color labels can be used as well.
  • Plates are prepared with 384 separate library elements in separate wells of the 384-well plates; 8 of which have optical labels. The library elements are made into droplets, collected in a vial, (also known as a creaming tower) and the collection is mixed on the mixer for several hours. The mixer works by flipping the vial over about once every 30 seconds and then allowing the droplets to rise. Multiple plates can be emulsified and pooled or collected sequentially into the same vial.
  • A small fraction of the droplets are taken out of the vial to verify 1) that the droplets are present in the correct predetermined ratio and 2) that the droplets are of uniform size. Typically, 1,000 to 10,000 droplets of each library element (0.384 to 3.84 million QC-droplets) are removed from the vial through a PEEK line in the center opening in the vial cap by positive displacement with a drive oil infused through the side opening in vial cap. The PEEK line takes the droplets into a port on a microfluidic chip at a rate of several thousand droplets/second; for 10 picoliter droplets at a rate of 3000 droplets/s corresponds to a typical infusion rate of roughly 110 micro-liters/hr. Once on chip the droplets are spaced out by adding oil before they are imaged and pass one droplet at a time through a laser excitation spot. Maximum fluorescence intensity data from individual droplets is collected for all of the QC-droplets and histograms are built to show the number of droplets within a given fluorescence intensity range. As expected, if eight of the library elements have optical labels, then there are eight peaks in the histograms. The increasing concentration factor c=1.38 results in uniformly separated peaks across one decade when plotted on a log scale. The relative number of droplets in each peak is used as a quality metric to validate that the libraries were prepared with the expected relative representation. In this example, the percent variation is determined to be only 2.7% demonstrating that all library elements have uniform representation.
  • Image analysis can be utilized to determine and monitor osmotic pressure within the droplets. Osmotic pressure (e.g., two member library prepared with a small difference in buffer concentration) can effect droplets. Specifically, droplets with a lower salt concentration shrink over time and droplets with higher salt concentration grow over time, until uniform salt concentrations are achieved. Thus it.
  • Image analysis can also be utilizes for quality control of the library reformatting process. After the various library elements are generated, pooled and mixed, optical labels can be used to verify uniform representation of all library elements. Additionally, image analysis is used to verify uniform volume for all droplets.
  • Further, image analysis can be used for shelf life testing by quantifying the materials performance. Droplets are stored in vials under a variety of conditions to test droplets stability against droplet-droplet coalescence events. Conditions tested include temperature, vibration, presence of air in vials, surfactant type, and surfactant concentration. A Quality Score of percent coalescence is calculated by image analysis. Shelf-life for the droplet libraries of the present invention exceed 90 days.
  • Microfluidic Systems
  • Reagents can be reformatted as droplet libraries utilizing automated devices. Specifically, the library elements can be placed onto plates containing any number of wells, i.e. 96, 384, etc. The plates can then be placed in an Automated Droplet Library Production machine (or other such automated device known in the art), which forms the droplets and puts them into a vial or other such container, containing the ready to use droplet library. In general, the process aspirates each of the library elements from the well plates through tubing connected to a microfluidic device (described in greater detail herein) which can be used to form the droplets. The tubing that aspirates the library elements can be rinsed at a wash station and then the process can be repeated for the next library element.
  • A collection vial can be used to contain the droplets made using the Automated Droplet Library Production. In one example, the collection vial has two holes, a first hole in the center of the vial cap and a second hole part way to the edge of the vial cap. The vial is first filled with oil through the second hole to purge air out first hole, the emulsion is then introduced to the vial through the first hole, typically this is done sequentially one library element at a time at low volume fraction, and oil is displaced and goes out through the second hole. The collected droplets can be stored in the vial for periods of time in excess of 3 months. To remove the emulsion for use or to make smaller aliquots, oil is introduced through the second opening to displace the emulsion and drive out the first opening.
  • The droplet libraries of the present invention are preferably formed by utilizing microfluidic devices and are preferably utilized to perform various biological and chemical assays on microfluidic devices, as described in detail herein. The present invention also provides embedded microfluidic nozzles. In order to create a monodisperse (<1.5% polydispersity) emulsion directly from a library well, a nozzle can be formed directly into the fitting used to connect the storage well/reservoir (e.g. syringe) to a syringe tip (e.g. capillary tubing). Examples of suitable nozzles to create the droplet libraries of the instant invention are described in WO 2007/081385 and WO 2008/063227.
  • Since the flow is three dimensional, under this design surface wetting effects are minimized.
  • The nozzle can be made from one or two oil lines providing constant flow of oil into the nozzle, a connection to the capillary tubing, and a connection to the storage well/reservoir (e.g. syringe). The high resolution part of the nozzle can be made out of a small bore tubing or a small, simple part molded or stamped from an appropriate material (Teflon®, plastic, metal, etc). If necessary, the nozzle itself could be formed into the tip of the ferrule using post mold processing such as laser ablation or drilling.
  • This nozzle design eliminates the surface wetting issues surrounding the quasi-2D flow associated with typical microfluidic nozzles made using soft lithography or other standard microfluidic chip manufacturing techniques. This is because the nozzle design is fully 3-dimensional, resulting is a complete isolation of the nozzle section from the continuous aqueous phase. This same design can also be used for generation of emulsions required for immediate use, where the aqueous line would be attached directly to a syringe and the outlet of the nozzle would be used to transport the emulsion to the point of use (e.g. into a microfluidic PCR chip, delay line, etc).
  • In another embodiment, the present invention provides compositions and methods to directly emulsify library elements from standard library storage geometries (e.g. 96 well plates, etc). In order to create a monodisperse emulsion from fluids contained in a library well plate, this invention would include microfluidic based nozzles manufactured simultaneously with an appropriately designed fluidic interconnect or well.
  • Specifically, the microfluidic devices and methods described herein are based on the creation and electrical manipulation of aqueous phase droplets (e.g., droplet libraries) completely encapsulated by an inert immiscible oil stream. This combination enables precise droplet generation, highly efficient, electrically addressable, droplet coalescence, and controllable, electrically addressable single droplet sorting. The microfluidic devices include one or more channels and modules. A schematic illustrating one example of interacting modules of a microfluidic substrate is shown in FIG. 1. The integration of these modules is an essential enabling technology for a droplet based, high-throughput microfluidic reactor system and provides an ideal system for utilizing the droplet libraries provided herein for numerous biological, chemical, or diagnostic applications.
  • Substrates
  • The microfluidic device of the present invention includes one or more analysis units. An “analysis unit” is a microsubstrate, e.g., a microchip. The terms microsubstrate, substrate, microchip, and chip are used interchangeably herein. The analysis unit includes at least one inlet channel, at least one main channel and at least one inlet module. The analysis unit can further include at least one coalescence module. at least one detection module and one or more sorting modules. The sorting module can be in fluid communication with branch channels which are in fluid communication with one or more outlet modules (collection module or waste module). For sorting applications, at least one detection module cooperates with at least one sorting module to divert flow via a detector-originated signal. It shall be appreciated that the “modules” and “channels” are in fluid communication with each other and therefore may overlap; i.e., there may be no clear boundary where a module or channel begins or ends. A plurality of analysis units of the invention may be combined in one device. The dimensions of the substrate are those of typical microchips, ranging between about 0.5 cm to about 15 cm per side and about 1 micron to about 1 cm in thickness. The analysis unit and specific modules are described in further detail in WO 2006/040551; WO 2006/040554; WO 2004/002627; WO 2004/091763; WO 2005/021151; WO 2006/096571; WO 2007/089541; WO 2007/081385 and WO 2008/063227.
  • A variety of materials and methods can be used to form any of the described components of the systems and devices of the invention. For example, various components of the invention can be formed from solid materials, in which the channels can be formed via molding, micromachining, film deposition processes such as spin coating and chemical vapor deposition, laser fabrication, photolithographic techniques, etching methods including wet chemical or plasma processes, and the like. See, for example, Angell, et al., Scientific American, 248:44-55, 1983. At least a portion of the fluidic system can be formed of silicone by molding a silicone chip. Technologies for precise and efficient formation of various fluidic systems and devices of the invention from silicone are known. Various components of the systems and devices of the invention can also be formed of a polymer, for example, an elastomeric polymer such as polydimethylsiloxane (“PDMS”), polytetrafluoroethylene (“PTFE”) or Teflon®, or the like.
  • Silicone polymers are preferred, for example, the silicone elastomer polydimethylsiloxane. Non-limiting examples of POMS polymers include those sold under the trademark Sylgard by Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Mich., and particularly Sylgard 182, Sylgard 184, and Sylgard 186, Silicone polymers including PDMS have several beneficial properties simplifying formation of the microfluidic structures of the invention. For instance, such materials are inexpensive, readily available, and can be solidified from a prepolymeric liquid via curing with heat. For example, PDMSs are typically curable by exposure of the prepolymeric liquid to temperatures of about, for example, about 65° C. to about 75° C. for exposure times of, for example, about an hour. Also, silicone polymers, such as PDMS, can be elastomeric and thus may be useful for forming very small features with relatively high aspect ratios, necessary in certain embodiments of the invention. Flexible (e.g., elastomeric) molds or masters can be advantageous in this regard.
  • One advantage of forming structures such as microfluidic structures of the invention from silicone polymers, such as PDMS, is the ability of such polymers to be oxidized, for example by exposure to an oxygen-containing plasma such as an air plasma, so that the oxidized structures contain, at their surface, chemical groups capable of cross-linking to other oxidized silicone polymer surfaces or to the oxidized surfaces of a variety of other polymeric and non-polymeric materials. Thus, components can be formed and then oxidized and essentially irreversibly sealed to other silicone polymer surfaces, or to the surfaces of other substrates reactive with the oxidized silicone polymer surfaces, without the need for separate adhesives or other sealing means. In most cases, sealing can be completed simply by contacting an oxidized silicone surface to another surface without the need to apply auxiliary pressure to form the seat. That is, the pre-oxidized silicone surface acts as a contact adhesive against suitable mating surfaces. Specifically, in addition to being irreversibly sealable to itself, oxidized silicone such as oxidized PDMS can also be sealed irreversibly to a range of oxidized materials other than itself including, for example, glass, silicon, silicon oxide, quartz, silicon nitride, polyethylene, polystyrene, glassy carbon, and epoxy polymers, which have been oxidized in a similar fashion to the PDMS surface (for example, via exposure to an oxygen-containing plasma). Oxidation and sealing methods useful in the context of the present invention, as well as overall molding techniques, are described in the art, for example, in Duffy et al., “Rapid Prototyping of Microfluidic Systems and Polydimethylsiloxane,” Anal. Chem., 70:474-480, 1998.
  • Another advantage to forming microfluidic structures of the invention (or interior, fluid-contacting surfaces) from oxidized silicone polymers is that these surfaces can be much more hydrophilic than the surfaces of typical elastomeric polymers (where a hydrophilic interior surface is desired). Such hydrophilic channel surfaces can thus be more easily filled and wetted with aqueous solutions than can structures comprised of typical, unoxidized elastomeric polymers or other hydrophobic materials.
  • Channels
  • The microfluidic substrates of the present invention include channels that form the boundary for a fluid. A “channel,” as used herein, means a feature on or in a substrate that at least partially directs the flow of a fluid. In some cases, the channel may be formed, at least in part, by a single component, e.g., an etched substrate or molded unit. The channel can have any cross-sectional shape, for example, circular, oval, triangular, irregular, square or rectangular (having any aspect ratio), or the like, and can be covered or uncovered (i.e., open to the external environment surrounding the channel). In embodiments where the channel is completely covered, at least one portion of the channel can have a cross-section that is completely enclosed, and/or the entire channel may be completely enclosed along its entire length with the exception of its inlet and outlet.
  • The channels of the invention can be formed, for example by etching a silicon chip using conventional photolithography techniques, or using a micromachining technology called “soft lithography” as described by Whitesides and Xia, Angewandte Chemie International Edition 37, 550 (1998).
  • An open channel generally will include characteristics that facilitate control over fluid transport, e.g., structural characteristics (an elongated indentation) and/or physical or chemical characteristics (hydrophobicity vs. hydrophilicity) and/or other characteristics that can exert a force (e.g., a containing force) on a fluid. The fluid within the channel may partially or completely fill the channel. In some cases the fluid may be held or confined within the channel or a portion of the channel in some fashion, for example, using surface tension (e.g., such that the fluid is held within the channel within a meniscus, such as a concave or convex meniscus). In an article or substrate, some (or all) of the channels may be of a particular size or less, for example, having a largest dimension perpendicular to fluid flow of less than about 5 mm, less than about 2 mm, less than about 1 mm, less than about 500 microns, less than about 200 microns, less than about 100 microns, less than about 60 microns, less than about 50 microns, less than about 40 microns, less than about 30 microns, less than about 25 microns, less than about 10 microns, less than about 3 microns, less than about 1 micron, less than about 300 nm, less than about 100 nm, less than about 30 nm, or less than about 10 mm or less in some cases.
  • A “main channel” is a channel of the device of the invention which permits the flow of molecules, cells, small molecules or particles past a coalescence module for coalescing one or more droplets, and, if present, a detection module for detection (identification) or measurement of a droplet and a sorting module for sorting a droplet based on the detection in the detection module. The main channel is typically in fluid communication with the coalescence, detection and/or sorting modules, as well as, an inlet channel of the inlet module. The main channel is also typically in fluid communication with an outlet module and optionally with branch channels, each of which may have a collection module or waste module. These channels permit the flow of molecules, cells, small molecules or particles out of the main channel. An “inlet channel” permits the flow of molecules, cells, small molecules or particles into the main channel. One or more inlet channels communicate with one or more means for introducing a sample into the device of the present invention. The inlet channel communicates with the main channel at an inlet module.
  • The microfluidic substrate can also comprise one or more fluid channels to inject or remove fluid in between droplets in a droplet stream for the purpose of changing the spacing between droplets.
  • The channels of the device of the present invention can be of any geometry as described. However, the channels of the device can comprise a specific geometry such that the contents of the channel are manipulated, e.g., sorted, mixed, prevent clogging, etc.
  • A microfluidic substrate can also include a specific geometry designed in such a manner as to prevent the aggregation of biological/chemical material and keep the biological/chemical material separated from each other prior to encapsulation in droplets. The geometry of channel dimension can be changed to disturb the aggregates and break them apart by various methods, that can include, but is not limited to, geometric pinching (to force cells through a (or a series of) narrow region(s), whose dimension is smaller or comparable to the dimension of a single cell) or a barricade (place a series of barricades on the way of the moving cells to disturb the movement and break up the aggregates of cells).
  • To prevent material (e.g., cells and other particles or molecules) from adhering to the sides of the channels, the channels (and coverslip, if used) may have a coating which minimizes adhesion. The surface of the channels of the microfluidic device can be coated with any anti-wetting or blocking agent for the dispersed phase. The channel can be coated with any protein to prevent adhesion of the biological/chemical sample. Channels can be coated by any means known in the art. For example, the channels are coated with Teflon®, BSA, PEG-silane and/or fluorosilane in an amount sufficient to prevent attachment and prevent clogging. In another example, the channels can be coated with a cyclized transparent optical polymer obtained by copolymerization of perfluoro (alkenyl vinyl ethers), such as the type sold by Asahi Glass Co. under the trademark Cytop. In such an example, the coating is applied from a 0.1-0.5 wt % solution of Cytop CTL-809M in CT-Solv 180. This solution can be injected into the channels of a microfluidic device via a plastic syringe. The device can then be heated to about 90° C. for 2 hours, followed by heating at 200° C. for an additional 2 hours. In another embodiment, the channels can be coated with a hydrophobic coating of the type sold by PPG Industries, Inc. under the trademark Aquapel (e.g., perfluoroalkylalkylsilane surface treatment of plastic and coated plastic substrate surfaces in conjunction with the use of a silica primer layer) and disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,523,162. By fluorinating the surfaces of the channels, the continuous phase preferentially wets the channels and allows for the stable generation and movement of droplets through the device. The low surface tension of the channel walls thereby minimizes the accumulation of channel clogging particulates.
  • The surface of the channels in the microfluidic device can be also fluorinated by any means known in the art to prevent undesired wetting behaviors. For example, a microfluidic device can be placed in a polycarbonate dessicator with an open bottle of (tridecafluoro-1,1,2,2-tetrahydrooctyl)trichlorosilane. The dessicator is evacuated for 5 minutes, and then sealed for 20-40 minutes. The dessicator is then backfilled with air and removed. This approach uses a simple diffusion mechanism to enable facile infiltration of channels of the microfluidic device with the fluorosilane and can be readily scaled up for simultaneous device fluorination.
  • Fluids
  • The fluids described herein are related to the fluids within the droplet libraries and to the fluids within a microfluidic device.
  • The microfluidic device of the present invention is capable of controlling the direction and flow of fluids and entities within the device. The term “flow” means any movement of liquid or solid through a device or in a method of the invention, and encompasses without limitation any fluid stream, and any material moving with, within or against the stream, whether or not the material is carried by the stream. For example, the movement of molecules, beads, cells or virions through a device or in a method of the invention, e.g. through channels of a microfluidic chip of the invention, comprises a flow. This is so, according to the invention, whether or not the molecules, beads, cells or virions are carried by a stream of fluid also comprising a flow, or whether the molecules, cells or virions are caused to move by some other direct or indirect force or motivation, and whether or not the nature of any motivating force is known or understood. The application of any force may be used to provide a flow, including without limitation, pressure, capillary action, electro-osmosis, electrophoresis, dielectrophoresis, optical tweezers, and combinations thereof, without regard for any particular theory or mechanism of action, so long as molecules, cells or virions are directed for detection, measurement or sorting according to the invention. Specific flow forces are described in further detail herein.
  • The flow stream in the main channel is typically, but not necessarily, continuous and may be stopped and started, reversed or changed in speed. A liquid that does not contain sample molecules, cells or particles can be introduced into a sample inlet well or channel and directed through the inlet module, e.g., by capillary action, to hydrate and prepare the device for use. Likewise, buffer or oil can also be introduced into a main inlet region that communicates directly with the main channel to purge the device (e.g., or “dead” air) and prepare it for use. If desired, the pressure can be adjusted or equalized, for example, by adding buffer or oil to an outlet module.
  • As used herein, the term “fluid stream” or “fluidic stream” refers to the flow of a fluid, typically generally in a specific direction. The fluidic stream may be continuous and/or discontinuous. A “continuous” fluidic stream is a fluidic stream that is produced as a single entity, e.g., if a continuous fluidic stream is produced from a channel, the fluidic stream, after production, appears to be contiguous with the channel outlet. The continuous fluidic stream is also referred to as a continuous phase fluid or carrier fluid. The continuous fluidic stream may be laminar, or turbulent in some cases.
  • Similarly, a “discontinuous” fluidic stream is a fluidic stream that is not produced as a single entity. The discontinuous fluidic stream is also referred to as the dispersed phase fluid or sample fluid. A discontinuous fluidic stream may have the appearance of individual droplets, optionally surrounded by a second fluid. The dispersed phase fluid can include a biological/chemical material. The biological/chemical material can be tissues, cells, particles, proteins, antibodies, amino acids, nucleotides, small molecules, and pharmaceuticals. The biological/chemical material can include one or more labels known in the art. The label can be an optical label, an enzymatic label or a radioactive label. The label can be any detectable label, e.g., a protein, a DNA tag, a dye, a quantum dot or a radio frequency identification tag, or combinations thereof. Preferably the label is an optical label. The label can be detected by any means known in the art. Preferably, the label is detected by fluorescence polarization, fluorescence intensity, fluorescence lifetime, fluorescence energy transfer, pH, ionic content, temperature or combinations thereof. Various labels and means for detection are described in greater detail herein.
  • The term “emulsion” refers to a preparation of one liquid distributed in small globules (also referred to herein as drops, droplets or NanoReactors) in the body of a second liquid. The first and second fluids are immiscible with each other. For example, the discontinuous phase can be an aqueous solution and the continuous phase can a hydrophobic fluid such as an oil. This is termed a water in oil emulsion. Alternatively, the emulsion may be a oil in water emulsion. In that example, the first liquid, which is dispersed in globules, is referred to as the discontinuous phase, whereas the second liquid is referred to as the continuous phase or the dispersion medium. The continuous phase can be an aqueous solution and the discontinuous phase is a hydrophobic fluid, such as an oil (e.g., decane, tetradecane, or hexadecane). The droplets or globules of oil in an oil in water emulsion are also referred to herein as “micelles”, whereas globules of water in a water in oil emulsion may be referred to as “reverse micelles”.
  • The fluidic droplets may each be substantially the same shape and/or size. The droplets may be uniform in size. The shape and/or size can be determined, for example, by measuring the average diameter or other characteristic dimension of the droplets. The “average diameter” of a plurality or series of droplets is the arithmetic average of the average diameters of each of the droplets. Those of ordinary skill in the art will be able to determine the average diameter (or other characteristic dimension) of a plurality or series of droplets, for example, using laser light scattering, microscopic examination, or other known techniques. The diameter of a droplet, in a non-spherical droplet, is the mathematically-defined average diameter of the droplet, integrated across the entire surface. The average diameter of a droplet (and/or of a plurality or series of droplets) may be, for example, less than about 1 mm, less than about 500 micrometers, less than about 200 micrometers, less than about 100 micrometers, less than about 75 micrometers, less than about 50 micrometers, less than about 25 micrometers, less than about 10 micrometers, or less than about 5 micrometers in some cases. The average diameter may also be at least about 1 micrometer, at least about 2 micrometers, at least about 3 micrometers, at least about 5 micrometers, at least about 10 micrometers, at least about 15 micrometers, or at least about 20 micrometers in certain cases.
  • As used herein, the term “NanoReactor” and its plural encompass the terms “droplet”, “nanodrop”, “nanodroplet”, “microdrop” or “microdroplet” as defined herein, as well as an integrated system for the manipulation and probing of droplets, as described in detail herein. Nanoreactors as described herein can be 0.1-1000 μm (e.g., 0.1, 0.2 . . . 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 . . . 1000), or any size within this range. Droplets at these dimensions tend to conform to the size and shape of the channels, while maintaining their respective volumes. Thus, as droplets move from a wider channel to a narrower channel they become longer and thinner, and vice versa.
  • The microfluidic substrate of this invention most preferably generate round, highly uniform, monodisperse droplets (<1.5% polydispersity). Droplets and methods of forming monodisperse droplets in microfluidic channels is described in WO 2006/040551; WO 2006/040554; WO 2004/002627; WO 2004/091763; WO 2005/021151; WO 2006/096571; WO 2007/089541; WO 2007/081385 and WO 2008/063227.
  • The droplet forming liquid is typically an aqueous buffer solution, such as ultrapure water (e.g., 18 mega-ohm resistivity, obtained, for example by column chromatography), 10 mM Tris HCl and 1 mM EDTA (TE) buffer, phosphate buffer saline (PBS) or acetate buffer. Any liquid or buffer that is physiologically compatible with the population of molecules, cells or particles to be analyzed and/or sorted can be used. The fluid passing through the main channel and in which the droplets are formed is one that is immiscible with the droplet forming fluid. The fluid passing through the main channel can be a non-polar solvent, decane (e.g., tetradecane or hexadecane), fluorocarbon oil, silicone oil or another oil (for example, mineral oil).
  • The droplet may also contain biological/chemical material (e.g., molecules, cells, or other particles) for combination, analysis and/or sorting in the device. The droplets of the dispersed phase fluid can contain more than one particle or can contain no more than one particle.
  • Droplets of a sample fluid can be formed within the inlet module on the microfluidic device or droplets (or droplet libraries) can be formed before the sample fluid is introduced to the microfluidic device (“off chip” droplet formation). To permit effective interdigitation, coalescence and detection, the droplets comprising each sample to be analyzed must be monodisperse. As described in more detail herein, in many applications, different samples to be analyzed are contained within droplets of different sizes. Droplet size must be highly controlled to ensure that droplets containing the correct contents for analysis and coalesced properly. As such, the present invention provides devices and methods for forming droplets and droplet libraries.
  • Surfactants
  • The fluids used in the invention may contain one or more additives, such as agents which reduce surface tensions (surfactants). Surfactants can include Tween, Span, fluorosurfactants, and other agents that are soluble in oil relative to water. In some applications, performance is improved by adding a second surfactant to the aqueous phase. Surfactants can aid in controlling or optimizing droplet size, flow and uniformity, for example by reducing the shear force needed to extrude or inject droplets into an intersecting channel. This can affect droplet volume and periodicity, or the rate or frequency at which droplets break off into an intersecting channel. Furthermore, the surfactant can serve to stabilize aqueous emulsions in fluorinated oils from coalescing. The present invention provides compositions and methods to stabilize aqueous droplets in a fluorinated oil and minimize the transport of positively charged reagents (particularly, fluorescent dyes) from the aqueous phase to the oil phase.
  • The droplets may be coated with a surfactant. Preferred surfactants that may be added to the continuous phase fluid include, but are not limited to, surfactants such as sorbitan-based carboxylic acid esters (e.g., the “Span” surfactants, Fluka Chemika), including sorbitan monolaurate (Span 20), sorbitan monopalmitate (Span 40), sorbitan monostearate (Span 60) and sorbitan monooleate (Span 80), and perfluorinated polyethers (e.g., DuPont Krytox 157 FSL, FSM, and/or ESH). Other non-limiting examples of non-ionic surfactants which may be used include polyoxyethylenated alkylphenols (for example, nonyl-, p-dodecyl-, and dinonylphenols), polyoxyethylenated straight chain alcohols, polyoxyethylenated polyoxypropylene glycols, polyoxyethylenated mercaptans, long chain carboxylic acid esters (for example, glyceryl and polyglycerl esters of natural fatty acids, propylene glycol, sorbitol, polyoxyethylenated sorbitol esters, polyoxyethylene glycol esters, etc.) and alkanolamines (e.g., diethanolamine-fatty acid condensates and isopropanolamine-fatty acid condensates). In addition, ionic surfactants such as sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) may also be used. However, such surfactants are generally less preferably for many embodiments of the invention. For instance, in those embodiments where aqueous droplets are used as nanoreactors for chemical reactions (including biochemical reactions) or are used to analyze and/or sort biomaterials, a water soluble surfactant such as SDS may denature or inactivate the contents of the droplet.
  • The carrier fluid can be an oil (e.g., decane, tetradecane or hexadecane) or fluorocarbon oil that contains a surfactant (e.g., a non-ionic surfactant such as a Span surfactant) as an additive (preferably between about 0.2 and 5% by volume, more preferably about 2%). A user can preferably cause the carrier fluid to flow through channels of the microfluidic device so that the surfactant in the carrier fluid coats the channel walls.
  • Fluorocarbon oil continuous phases are well-suited as the continuous phase for aqueous droplet libraries for a number of reasons. Fluorous oils are both hydrophobic and lipophobic. Therefore, they have low solubility for components of the aqueous phase and they limit molecular diffusion between droplets. Also, fluorous oils present an inert interface for chemistry and biology within droplets. In contrast to hydrocarbon or silicone oils, fluorous oils do not swell PDMS materials, which is a convenient material for constructing microfluidic channels. Finally, fluorocarbon oils have good solubility for gases, which is necessary for the viability of encapsulated cells.
  • Combinations of surfactant(s) and oils must be developed to facilitate generation, storage, and manipulation of droplets to maintain the unique chemical/biochemical/biological environment within each droplet of a diverse library. Therefore, the surfactant and oil combination must (1) stabilize droplets against uncontrolled coalescence during the drop forming process and subsequent collection and storage, (2) minimize transport of any droplet contents to the oil phase and/or between droplets, and (3) maintain chemical and biological inertness with contents of each droplet (e.g., no adsorption or reaction of encapsulated contents at the oil-water interface, and no adverse effects on biological or chemical constituents in the droplets). In addition to the requirements on the droplet library function and stability, the surfactant-in-oil solution must be coupled with the fluid physics and materials associated with the platform. Specifically, the oil solution must not swell, dissolve, or degrade the materials used to construct the microfluidic chip, and the physical properties of the oil (e.g., viscosity, boiling point, etc.) must be suited for the flow and operating conditions of the platform.
  • Droplets formed in oil without surfactant are not stable to permit coalescence, so surfactants must be dissolved in the fluorous oil that is used as the continuous phase for the emulsion library. Surfactant molecules are amphiphilic part of the molecule is oil soluble, and part of the molecule is water soluble. When a water-oil interface is formed at the nozzle of a microfluidic chip for example in the inlet module described herein, surfactant molecules that are dissolved in the oil phase adsorb to the interface. The hydrophilic portion of the molecule resides inside the droplet and the fluorophilic portion of the molecule decorates the exterior of the droplet. The surface tension of a droplet is reduced when the interface is populated with surfactant, so the stability of an emulsion is improved. In addition to stabilizing the droplets against coalescence, the surfactant should be inert to the contents of each droplet and the surfactant should not promote transport of encapsulated components to the oil or other droplets.
  • A very large body of fundamental research and commercial application development exists for non-fluorous surfactants and emulsions ranging from sub-micron droplets to very large, macroscopic emulsions. In contrast, fundamental knowledge and commercial practice with fluorinated oils and surfactants is much less common. More specifically, testing and development of fluorosurfactants and fluorous oil formulations for the application of creating large libraries of micron-scale droplets with unique composition is limited to only a few groups throughout the world. Only a few commercially-available fluorosurfactants that stabilize water-in-fluorocarbon oil emulsions exist. For instance, surfactants with short fluorotelomer-tails (typically perfluorinated C6 to C10) are available, but they do not provide sufficient long-term emulsion stability. Fluorosurfactants with longer fluorocarbon tails, such as perfluoropolyether (PFPE), are limited to molecules with ionic headgroups.
  • Classes of oils are available from wide variety of fluorinated oils and are available from commercial sources. The requirements for the oil are (1) immiscibility with the aqueous phase, (2) solubility of emulsion stabilizing surfactants in the oil, and (3) compatibility and/or insolubility of reagents from the droplet phase. Oils include hydrofluoroethers, which are fluorinated alkyl chains coupled with hydrocarbon chemistry through and ether bond. One supplier of this type of oil is 3M. The products are marketed as Novec Engineered Fluids or HFE-series oils. This oils include but are not limited to, HFE-7500, which is a preferred embodiment as it provides superior droplet stability seems to be higher. Other oils include HFE-7100, -7200, -7600, which are examples of other HFEs available from 3M. These can be used as stand-alone oils or components of oil mixtures to optimize emulsion properties and performance. Other hydrofluoroethers are also available from other producers, distributors, or resellers may offer hydrofluoroethers.
  • Another class of oil is perfluoroalkylamines, which are perfluorinated oils based on perfluoroalkyl amine structures. 3M produces these oils as Fluorinert Electronic Liquids (FC-oils). Fluorinert products differ by variations in alkyl chain length, branch structure, and combinations of different structures or pure oils. Many of them offer the potential for stand-alone oils or components of oil mixtures to optimize emulsion properties and performance. Specific examples are Fluorinert FC-3283, Fluorinert FC-40, which are a preferred embodiments. Higher viscosity and boiling point useful for applications requiring elevated temperature (e.g., thermocyling for PCR). Other Fluorinert series can be used for stand-alone oils or components of oil mixtures to optimize emulsion properties and performance. Again, other perfluoroalkylamines are available from other producers, distributors, or resellers may offer perfluoroalkylamines.
  • Fluorinated organics/solvents offer a number of perfluorinated or partially fluorinated solvents are available from a variety of producers, distributors, and/or resellers. Many of them offer the potential for stand-alone oils or components of oil mixtures to optimize emulsion properties and performance. Examples of fluorinated organic reagents utilized, included (but not limited to) trifluoroacetic acid and hexafluoroisopropanol, to improve droplet stability in other fluorinated oil systems. Additionally, fluoropolymers may also be used within a microfluidic system. Examples of fluoropolymers include, Krytox GPL oils, Solvay Galden oils, and other liquid fluoropolymers. Other fluorinated materials find widespread use in a variety of industries, but they are generally not well-known in the disciplines of interfacial, colloidal, physical, or synthetic organic chemistry. Therefore, a number of other candidates for oils exist in specialty and niche market applications. As such, new oils have been targeted partially that are per-fluorinated materials, which are not widely recognized.
  • The properties of oils selected are based upon their chemical properties, such as, among others molecular structure, fluorine content and solvating strength. Physical properties of oils examined include viscosity, boiling point, thermal expansion coefficient, oil-in-water solubility, water-in-oil solubility, dielectric constant, polarity, and oil-in-water surface tension.
  • Classes of surfactants include fluorosurfactants that can be categorized by the type of fluorophilic portion of the molecule, the type of hydrophilic, or polar, portion, and the chemistry used to link the different parts of the molecule. Materials developed are capable of stabilizing an emulsion or droplet library. The preferred embodiment is the EA surfactant. Specifically, the EA surfactant is a Krytox-PFG-Krytox. The EA surfactant is a nonionic tri-block copolymer surfactant was developed to avoid issues that the ionic surfactants (e.g., RR, see below) which result from the use of some other ionic surfactant. Specifically, ionic surfactants interact with charged species in the droplets and can sequester ions (e.g., magnesium required for the PCR reaction) or other reagents to the oil phase. The structure of the EA surfactant comprises a PEG—approximately 600 Da with amine end functionality, PFPE—Mn is ˜5000-8000 from a Krytox FSH starting material and the linker is an amide coupling. Another surfactant includes the R R surfactant, which is a Krytox ammonium carboxylate.
  • Alternative materials are alternative fluorophilic portion, i.e., PFPE (Solvay or Demnum), Poly(fluoroalkylacrylate) and other non-polymeric and partially fluorinated materials. Alternative head-group chemistry for the hydrophilic portion includes, non-ionic head groups like PEG (Mw, Mw/Mn (PDI)) and functionality (i.e., diblock, triblock and dendritic). Others include morpholino. Ionic head groups for the hydrophilic portion include anionic, such as elemental and amine salts and further cationic head portions. Other head group chemistries include zwitterionic, hybrid (e.g., PEG-ionic and zonyl FSO/FSN), lipophilic (e.g, lipophilic to promote bilayer and lipophilic spacer to hydrophile). Another alternative is alternative coupling chemistry such as, phosphoryl/Friedel-Crafts, spacer to organic handle and others.
  • Characteristics of surfactants are their molecular structure, determined by NMR, chromatography (e.g., HPLC, GPC/SEC), FTIR, mass spectrometry, and titrations. Purity of surfactants is another characteristic examined in addition to the fluorophile-hydrophile balance.
  • A preferred embodiment includes oil-surfactant formulation for the application of library emulsions is R-oil (HFE-7500) mixed with 2 wt % EA surfactant (“REA20”). Concentrations of EA or RR surfactant at 0.1 wt % or lower to 5% or greater. Other formulations of oils and surfactants and other components added to the aqueous phase are used to improved and optimized the performance of the droplets performance. Those properties of the oil-surfactant mixture include simple mixtures (i.e., one oil and one surfactant, with varied surface concentration), co-surfactants, oil mixtures and additives, such as zonyl and TFA.
  • Oil and surfactant mixture properties include surfactant solubility, critical micelle concentration (CMC), surfactant diffusivity, and interfacial tension, i.e., dynamic and equilibrium. Emulsion properties are also accounted for, those properties include size (absolute and size distribution), stability, transport, and biocompatibility. Stability relates directly to the coalesced droplets and their deformability/breaking and shredding ability. More particularly, the stability of the droplets in their generation, storage and shipping.
  • In general, production of surfactant and oils begins with the synthesis of surfactants and starting materials, such as PEG-diamine, EA and RR and also accounts for the purification processes, characterization, quality control, mixing and packaging.
  • In one embodiment, the fluorosurfactant can be prepared by reacting the perflourinated polyether DuPont Krytox 157 FSL, FSM, or FSH with aqueous ammonium hydroxide in a volatile fluorinated solvent. The solvent and residual water and ammonia can be removed with a rotary evaporator. The surfactant can then be dissolved (e.g., 2.5 wt %) in a fluorinated oil (e.g., Flourinert (3M)), which then serves as the continuous phase of the emulsion.
  • In another embodiment, a quaternary ammonium salt at the terminus of a hydrophilic oligomer is linked to a perfluoropolyether tail as shown in the following formula:
  • PFPE-(O)NH—H2CH2CH2CH2—(OCH2CH2)3O—CH2CH2CH2—N(CH3)3+I-Some specific molecular features of the present invention include, but are not limited to, PFPE is from Krytox 157 FSH (Mn˜6500), amide bond linking PFPE to hydrophile, propyl group immediately adjacent to the amide, propyl group immediately adjacent to the trimethylamino terminus. Specific structural formations can alter performance relationships, for example, PFPE chain is sufficiently long for molecule to be soluble in perfluorinated oils, amide linker provides hydrolytic stability and hydrogen bonding site, and a combination of PEG and quaternary ammonium cation provide high anchoring strength to the aqueous phase as well as electrostatic repulsion and steric hindrance to minimize reagent transport.
  • Variables in the molecular structure include, but are not limited to, PFPE molecular weight and polydispersity, PFPE structure, alternative perfluorinated tail chemistries, PEG molecular weight and polydispersity, shorter hydrocarbon linkers (ethyl or methyl versus propyl), longer hydrocarbon spacers (C4 or higher), alternative counterions, such as monovalent anions, monovalent, polyatomic anions and di- or tri-valent counterions (to produce two or more tail fluorosurfactants). Further variables in the molecule structure include alternative linker chemistries (e.g., ether, ester, etc), alternative hydrophilic oligomers (e.g., polyalcohol, polyacrylamide, etc.), alternative quaternary ammonium cations, and alternative ionic groups (e.g., anionic terminus—carboxylate etc.; alternative cations).
  • The present invention is also directed to the coupling of PEG-diamines with carboxylic acid-terminated perfluoropolyether (Krytox 157) to form surfactants. Specifically, the present invention is directed to a fluorosurfactant molecule made by the ionic coupling of amine-terminated polyethyleneglycol (PEG-amine) with the carboxylic acid of DuPont Krytox perfluoropolyether (PFPE). The resulting structure conveys good performance in the stabilization of aqueous droplets in fluorinated oil in a microfluidic system. Examples of specific surfactants are shown in Examples 1 and 2. Preferred surfactants are also described in WO 2008/021123.
  • The present invention provides droplets with a fluorosurfactant interface separating the aqueous droplet and its contents from the surrounding immiscible fluorocarbon oil. In one example, DNA amplification reactions occurring inside these droplets generate material that does not interact with the channel walls, and collection of the DNA-containing droplets for subsequent manipulation and sequencing is straightforward. This technology provides a solution for amplification of DNA from single cells, allowing for both genotyping and whole genome amplification. In addition, use within a microfluidic device or platform as described herein achieves very high throughput, with droplets processed at rates in excess of 5000 droplets per second, enabling greater than 1×106 single-cell droplets to be formed and manipulated per hour.
  • Other examples of materials related to this invention include the formation of salts made by combination of various primary, secondary, or tertiary amines with PFPE carboxylic acid. The resulting amphiphilic structure could be useful as a stand-alone surfactant or a cosurfactant. Similarly, fluorinated materials with carboxylic acids other than Krytox PFPE could be used to form ionic fluorosurfactants with various amine containing compounds.
  • Alternative amine-containing compounds for use with the present invention include, but are not limited to, PEG-monoamine (molecular weights range from 200 to 1,000,000 or more), PEG-diamine (molecular weights range from 200 to 1,000,000 or more), Multifunctional PEG amines (e.g., branched or dendritic structures), other hydrophilic polymers terminated with amines. Sugars include, but are not limited to, Sugars, Peptides, Biomolecules, Ethanolamine or Alkyl amines—primary, secondary, or tertiary (e.g., triethylamine, trimethylamine, methylamine, ethylamine, butylamine)
  • Alternative fluorinated groups for use with the present invention include, but are not limited to, Krytox FSL and FSM (alternative molecular weights), Demnum PFPE materials, Fluolink PFPE materials or Fluorinated small molecules with carboxylic acids.
  • The data described herein show that the fluorosurfactants comprised of PEG amine salts provide better performance (compared to other fluorosurfactants) for stabilization of aqueous droplets in fluorinated oils in droplet-based microfluidics applications. These novel surfactants are useful either in combination with other surfactants or as a stand-alone surfactant system.
  • Driving Forces
  • The invention can use pressure drive flow control, e.g., utilizing valves and pumps, to manipulate the flow of cells, particles, molecules, enzymes or reagents in one or more directions and/or into one or more channels of a microfluidic device. However, other methods may also be used, alone or in combination with pumps and valves, such as electro-osmotic flow control, electrophoresis and dielectrophoresis as described in Fulwyer, Science 156, 910 (1974); Li and Harrison, Analytical Chemistry 69, 1564 (1997); Fiedler, et al. Analytical Chemistry 70, 1909-1915 (1998) and U.S. Pat. No. 5,656,155. Application of these techniques according to the invention provides more rapid and accurate devices and methods for analysis or sorting, for example, because the sorting occurs at or in a sorting module that can be placed at or immediately after a detection module. This provides a shorter distance for molecules or cells to travel, they can move more rapidly and with less turbulence, and can more readily be moved, examined, and sorted in single file, i.e., one at a time.
  • Positive displacement pressure driven flow is a preferred way of controlling fluid flow and dielectrophoresis is a preferred way of manipulating droplets within that flow. The pressure at the inlet module can also be regulated by adjusting the pressure on the main and sample inlet channels, for example, with pressurized syringes feeding into those inlet channels. By controlling the pressure difference between the oil and water sources at the inlet module, the size and periodicity of the droplets generated may be regulated. Alternatively, a valve may be placed at or coincident to either the inlet module or the sample inlet channel connected thereto to control the flow of solution into the inlet module, thereby controlling the size and periodicity of the droplets. Periodicity and droplet volume may also depend on channel diameter, the viscosity of the fluids, and shear pressure. Examples of driving pressures and methods of modulating flow are as described in WO 2006/040551; WO 2006/040554; WO 2004/002627; WO 2004/091763; WO 2005/021151; WO 2006/096571; WO 2007/089541; WO 2007/081385 and WO 2008/063227; U.S. Pat. No. 6,540,895 and U.S. Patent Application Publication Nos. 20010029983 and 20050226742
  • Inlet Module
  • The microfluidic device of the present invention includes one or more inlet modules. An “inlet module” is an area of a microfluidic substrate device that receives molecules, cells, small molecules or particles for additional coalescence, detection and/or sorting. The inlet module can contain one or more inlet channels, wells or reservoirs, openings, and other features which facilitate the entry of molecules, cells, small molecules or particles into the substrate. A substrate may contain more than one inlet module if desired. Different sample inlet channels can communicate with the main channel at different inlet modules. Alternately, different sample inlet channels can communication with the main channel at the same inlet module. The inlet module is in fluid communication with the main channel. The inlet module generally comprises a junction between the sample inlet channel and the main channel such that a solution of a sample (i.e., a fluid containing a sample such as molecules, cells, small molecules (organic or inorganic) or particles) is introduced to the main channel and forms a plurality of droplets. The sample solution can be pressurized. The sample inlet channel can intersect the main channel such that the sample solution is introduced into the main channel at an angle perpendicular to a stream of fluid passing through the main channel. For example, the sample inlet channel and main channel intercept at a T-shaped junction; i.e., such that the sample inlet channel is perpendicular (90 degrees) to the main channel. However, the sample inlet channel can intercept the main channel at any angle, and need not introduce the sample fluid to the main channel at an angle that is perpendicular to that flow. The angle between intersecting channels is in the range of from about 60 to about 120 degrees. Particular exemplary angles are 45, 60, 90, and 120 degrees.
  • Embodiments of the invention are also provided in which there are two or more inlet modules introducing droplets of samples into the main channel. For example, a first inlet module may introduce droplets of a first sample into a flow of fluid in the main channel and a second inlet module may introduce droplets of a second sample into the flow of fluid in main channel, and so forth. The second inlet module is preferably downstream from the first inlet module (e.g., about 30 μm). The fluids introduced into the two or more different inlet modules can comprise the same fluid or the same type of fluid (e.g., different aqueous solutions). For example, droplets of an aqueous solution containing an enzyme are introduced into the main channel at the first inlet module and droplets of aqueous solution containing a substrate for the enzyme are introduced into the main channel at the second inlet module. Alternatively, the droplets introduced at the different inlet modules may be droplets of different fluids which may be compatible or incompatible. For example, the different droplets may be different aqueous solutions, or droplets introduced at a first inlet module may be droplets of one fluid (e.g., an aqueous solution) whereas droplets introduced at a second inlet module may be another fluid (e.g., alcohol or oil).
  • Filters
  • An important element in making libraries utilizing the microfluidic device of the present invention is to include features in the channels of the device to remove particles that may effect the microfluidic system. When emulsions are injected or re-injected onto a microfluidic device, they carry contaminants that collect at the nozzle and either clog the nozzle and/or induce uncontrolled coalescence up to the complete shredding of the emulsion. Debris/contaminants include small debris, such as dust or TCS, fibers, goop (glue and/or surfactant) and large debris such as PDMS skins/shavings. In one example, the present invention provides a post trap for large debris, a pocket trap for small debris, a serpentine trap for fibers and a step trap for large droplets/debris. EAP filters work well to filter out the contaminants.
  • The filter system filters out these contaminants and most importantly traps the contaminants out of the main pathway and allow the droplets to pass by so the contaminants cannot induce uncontrolled coalescence. The present invention comprises two distinct parts that specifically address two different scales. The first filters contaminants that are larger than the droplet size. The second filters contaminants that are smaller than the droplet and nozzle sizes. The large contaminants are easily trapped but are responsible for inducing uncontrolled coalescence, the small contaminants tend to stick to the nozzle and most probably induce wetting that results in the shredding of the emulsion.
  • To address the issue of large contaminants, a triangular shape filter is used that contains an internal-collection channel and smaller lateral channels connected to the internal-collection channel with a specific angle. On each side of the triangle are pockets to collect the contaminants that have been deflected by the triangle and directed there by the flow of the droplets due to the specific angle of the filter. In addition, the collection pockets are connected to a channel of high hydrodynamic resistance so that some of the flow will still go through and maintain the contaminants in the collection pockets. The lateral collection channels are located at a stepwise transition between a shallow layer and a deep layer. In one example, he droplets are collected in the Droplet Collection Channel through the lateral angled channels. The contaminants are deflected toward the Contaminant Collection Pocket because of the triangular shape and the droplet flow. Because of the use of high resistance channel for the Contaminants Collection Pockets, the droplets go through them only marginally, but enough to force the trapped contaminants to stay there.
  • To address the issue of the small contaminants, a series of posts are used, each one being offset by a half-period to the adjacent ones. This geometry intends to create a region of null-recirculation flow at the tip of each post due to the symmetry and contaminants are trapped in that region. In addition, the posts have an indentation to both increase the effect of the flow pattern described above and to trap the contaminants so that they are out of the way of the droplets. The posts can be designed just with an indentation or with a flow-through restriction of high hydrodynamic resistance so that the contaminants will be directed and trapped deep in the structure. The symmetrical design creates a region where there is almost no flow, in this region creates the conditions to trap the contaminants that are smaller than the droplets. The droplets follow the main flow because of the high hydrodynamic resistance conditions. The posts on one side of the channel have a flow-through to ensure that the contaminants stay trapped there; on the other side the posts have only an indentation. Several series of these posts, offset by half of a period are used to increase both the filter capacity and the odds of trapping any given contaminant.
  • Droplet Interdigitation
  • Particular design embodiments of the microfluidic device described herein allow for a more reproducible and controllable interdigitation of droplets of specific liquids followed by pair-wise coalescence of these droplets, described in further detail herein. The droplet pairs can contain liquids of different compositions and/or volumes, which would then combine to allow for a specific reaction to be investigated. The pair of droplets can come from any of the following: (i) two continuous aqueous streams and an oil stream; (ii) a continuous aqueous stream, an emulsion stream, and an oil stream, or (iii) two emulsion streams and an oil stream. The term “interdigitation” as used herein means pairing of droplets from separate aqueous streams, or from two separate inlet nozzles, for eventual coalescence.
  • Various nozzle designs enhance the interdigitation of droplets and further improves coalescence of droplets due to the better control of the interdigitation and smaller distance between pairs of droplets. The greater control over interdigitation allows for a perfect control over the frequency of either of the droplets. To obtain the optimum operation, the spacing between droplets and coupling of the droplets can be adjusted by adjusting flow of any of the streams, viscosity of the streams, nozzle design (including orifice diameter, the channel angle, and post-orifice neck of the nozzle). Examples of preferred nozzle designs are as described in WO 2007/081385 and WO 2008/063227.
  • Reservoir/Well
  • A device of the invention can include a sample solution reservoir or well or other apparatus for introducing a sample to the device, at the inlet module, which is typically in fluid communication with an inlet channel. Reservoirs and wells used for loading one or more samples onto the microfluidic device of the present invention, include but are not limited to, syringes, cartridges, vials, eppendorf tubes and cell culture materials (e.g., 96 well plates). A reservoir may facilitate introduction of molecules or cells into the device and into the sample inlet channel of each analysis unit.
  • Coalescence Module
  • The microfluidic device of the present invention also includes one or more coalescence modules. A “coalescence module” is within or coincident with at least a portion of the main channel at or downstream of the inlet module where molecules, cells, small molecules or particles comprised within droplets are brought within proximity of other droplets comprising molecules, cells, small molecules or particles and where the droplets in proximity fuse, coalesce or combine their contents. The coalescence module can also include an apparatus, for generating an electric force.
  • The electric force exerted on the fluidic droplet may be large enough to cause the droplet to move within the liquid. In some cases, the electric force exerted on the fluidic droplet may be used to direct a desired motion of the droplet within the liquid, for example, to or within a channel or a microfluidic channel (e.g., as further described herein), etc.
  • The electric field can be generated from an electric field generator, i.e., a device or system able to create an electric field that can be applied to the fluid. The electric field generator may produce an AC field (i.e., one that varies periodically with respect to time, for example, sinusoidally, sawtooth, square, etc.), a DC field (i.e., one that is constant with respect to time), a pulsed field, etc. The electric field generator may be constructed and arranged to create an electric field within a fluid contained within a channel or a microfluidic channel. The electric field generator may be integral to or separate from the fluidic system containing the channel or microfluidic channel, according to some embodiments. As used herein, “integral” means that portions of the components integral to each other are joined in such a way that the components cannot be in manually separated from each other without cutting or breaking at least one of the components.
  • Techniques for producing a suitable electric field (which may be AC, DC, etc.) are known to those of ordinary skill in the art. For example, in one embodiment, an electric field is produced by applying voltage across a pair of electrodes, which may be positioned on or embedded within the fluidic system (for example, within a substrate defining the channel or microfluidic channel), and/or positioned proximate the fluid such that at least a portion of the electric field interacts with the fluid. The electrodes can be fashioned from any suitable electrode material or materials known to those of ordinary skill in the art, including, but not limited to, silver, gold, copper, carbon, platinum, copper, tungsten, tin, cadmium, nickel, indium tin oxide (“ITO”), etc., as well as combinations thereof.
  • Preferred electrodes and patterned electrically conductive layers are described in WO 2007/081385 and WO 2008/063227 and can be associated with any module of the device (inlet module, coalescence module, mixing module, delay module, detection module and sorting module) to generate dielectric or electric forces to manipulate and control the droplets and their contents.
  • Effective control of uncharged droplets within microfluidic devices can require the generation of extremely strong dielectric field gradients. The fringe fields from the edges of a parallel plate capacitor can provide an excellent topology to form these gradients. The microfluidic device according to the present invention can include placing a fluidic channel between two parallel electrodes, which can result in a steep electric field gradient at the entrance to the electrodes due to edge effects at the ends of the electrode pair. Placing these pairs of electrodes at a symmetric channel split can allow precise bi-directional control of droplet within a device. Using the same principle, only with asymmetric splits, can allow single ended control of the droplet direction in the same manner. Alternatively, a variation on this geometry will allow precise control of the droplet phase by shifting.
  • Dielectrophoresis is believed to produce movement of dielectric objects, which have no net charge, but have regions that are positively or negatively charged in relation to each other. Alternating, non-homogeneous electric fields in the presence of droplets and/or particles, such as cells or molecules, cause the droplets and/or particles to become electrically polarized and thus to experience dielectrophoretic forces. Depending on the dielectric polarizability of the particles and the suspending medium, dielectric particles will move either toward the regions of high field strength or low field strength. For example, the polarizability of living cells depends on their composition, morphology, and phenotype and is highly dependent on the frequency of the applied electrical field. Thus, cells of different types and in different physiological states generally possess distinctly different dielectric properties, which may provide a basis for cell separation, e.g., by differential dielectrophoretic forces. Likewise, the polarizability of droplets also depends upon their size, shape and composition. For example, droplets that contain salts can be polarized. According to formulas provided in Fiedler, et al. Analytical Chemistry 70, 1909-1915 (1998), individual manipulation of single droplets requires field differences (inhomogeneities) with dimensions close to the droplets.
  • The term “dielectrophoretic force gradient” means a dielectrophoretic force is exerted on an object in an electric field provided that the object has a different dielectric constant than the surrounding media. This force can either pull the object into the region of larger field or push it out of the region of larger field. The force is attractive or repulsive depending respectively on whether the object or the surrounding media has the larger dielectric constant.
  • Manipulation is also dependent on permittivity (a dielectric property) of the droplets and/or particles with the suspending medium. Thus, polymer particles, living cells show negative dielectrophoresis at high-field frequencies in water. For example, dielectrophoretic forces experienced by a latex sphere in a 0.5 MV/m field (10 V for a 20 micron electrode gap) in water are predicted to be about 0.2 piconewtons (pN) for a 3.4 micron latex sphere to 15 pN for a 15 micron latex sphere (Fiedler, et al. Analytical Chemistry, 70, 1909-1915 (1998)). These values are mostly greater than the hydrodynamic forces experienced by the sphere in a stream (about 0.3 pN for a 3.4 micron sphere and 1.5 pN for a 15 micron sphere). Therefore, manipulation of individual cells or particles can be accomplished in a streaming fluid, such as in a cell sorter device, using dielectrophoresis. Using conventional semiconductor technologies, electrodes can be microfabricated onto a substrate to control the force fields in a microfabricated sorting device of the invention. Dielectrophoresis is particularly suitable for moving objects that are electrical conductors. The use of AC current is preferred, to prevent permanent alignment of ions. Megahertz frequencies are suitable to provide a net alignment, attractive force, and motion over relatively long distances. See U.S. Pat. No. 5,454,472. The electric field generator can be constructed and arranged (e.g., positioned) to create an electric field applicable to the fluid of at least about 0.01 V/micrometer, and, in some cases, at least about 0.03 V/micrometer, at least about 0.05 V/micrometer, at least about 0.08 V/micrometer, at least about 0.1 V/micrometer, at least about 0.3 V/micrometer, at least about 0.5 V/micrometer, at least about 0.7 V/micrometer, at least about 1 V/micrometer, at least about 1.2 V/micrometer, at least about 1.4 V/micrometer, at least about 1.6 V/micrometer, or at least about 2 V/micrometer. In some embodiments, even higher electric field intensities may be used, for example, at least about 2 V/micrometer, at least about 3 V/micrometer, at least about 5 V/micrometer, at least about 7 V/micrometer, or at least about 10 V/micrometer or more.
  • As described, an electric field may be applied to fluidic droplets to cause the droplets to experience an electric force. The electric force exerted on the fluidic droplets may be, in some cases, at least about 10−16 N/micrometer3. In certain cases, the electric force exerted on the fluidic droplets may be greater, e.g., at least about 10−15 N/micrometer, at least about 10−14 N/micrometer3, at least about 10−13 N/micrometer3, at least about 10−12 N/micrometer3, at least about 10−11 N/micrometer3, at least about 10−10 N/micrometer3, at least about 10−9 N/micrometer3, at least about 10−8 N/micrometer3, or at least about 10−7 N/micrometer3 or more. The electric force exerted on the fluidic droplets, relative to the surface area of the fluid, may be at least about 10−15 N/micrometer2, and in some cases, at least about 10−14 N/micrometer2, at least about 10−13 N/micrometer2, at least about 10−12 N/micrometer2, at least about 10−11 N/micrometer−2, at least about 10−10 N/micrometer2, at least about 10−9 N/micrometer2, at least about 10−8 N/micrometer2, at least about 10−7 N/micrometer2, or at least about 10−6 N/micrometer2 or more. In yet other embodiments, the electric force exerted on the fluidic droplets may be at least about 10−9 N, at least about 10−8 N, at least about 10−7 N, at least about 10−6 N, at least about 10−5 N, or at least about 10−4 N or more in some cases.
  • Channel Expansion Geometries
  • In preferred embodiments described herein, droplet coalescence is presently carried out by having two droplet forming nozzles emitting droplets into the same main channel. The size of the nozzles allow for one nozzle to form a large drop that fills the exhaust line while the other nozzle forms a drop that is smaller than the first. The smaller droplet is formed at a rate that is less than the larger droplet rate, which insures that at most one small droplet is between big droplets. Normally, the small droplet will catch up to the larger one over a relatively short distance, but sometimes the recirculation zone behind the large drop causes the small drop to separate from the large drop cyclically. In addition, the small drop occasionally does not catch up with the large one over the distance between the nozzles and the coalescing electrodes. Thus, in some situations is a need for a more robust coalescence scheme.
  • Geometric alterations in the coalescence module can create a more robust, reliable coalescence or fusing of droplets over a wider range of sizes and flows. The solution to inprove the performance is to place an expansion in the main channel between the electrodes. Optionally, a small constriction (neckdown) just before this expansion can be used to better align the droplets on their way into the coalescence point. This optional neckdown can help center the small droplet in the channel stream lines, reducing the chance that it will flow around the larger droplet prior to coalescing in the expansion. The electrode pair may be placed on either one side of the channel or on both sides.
  • The expansion in the coalescing region allows for a dramatic catching up of the small drop to the large drop, as shown through micrographs taken on an operating device. The volume of the expansion is big enough to slow the large droplet down so that the small drop always catches up to the large drop, but doesn't allow the next large drop to catch up and make contact with the pair to be coalesced. The electrodes allow for coalescence to take place when the drops are in contact with each other and passing through the field gradient.
  • Detection Module
  • The microfluidic device of the present invention can also include one or more detection modules. A “detection module” is a location within the device, typically within the main channel where molecules, cells, small molecules or particles are to be detected, identified, measured or interrogated on the basis of at least one predetermined characteristic. The molecules, cells, small molecules or particles can be examined one at a time, and the characteristic is detected or measured optically, for example, by testing for the presence or amount of a reporter. For example, the detection module is in communication with one or more detection apparatuses. The detection apparatuses can be optical or electrical detectors or combinations thereof. Examples of suitable detection apparatuses include optical waveguides, microscopes, diodes, light stimulating devices, (e.g., lasers), photo multiplier tubes, and processors (e.g., computers and software), and combinations thereof, which cooperate to detect a signal representative of a characteristic, marker, or reporter, and to determine and direct the measurement or the sorting action at the sorting module. However, other detection techniques can also be employed
  • The terms “detecting” or “determining,” as used herein, generally refers to the analysis or measurement of a species, for example, quantitatively or qualitatively, and/or the detection of the presence or absence of the species. “Detecting or “determining” may also refer to the analysis or measurement of an interaction between two or more species, for example, quantitatively or qualitatively, or by detecting the presence or absence of the interaction. Examples of suitable techniques include, but are not limited to, spectroscopy such as infrared, absorption, fluorescence, UV/visible, FTIR (“Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy”), or Raman; gravimetric techniques; ellipsometry; piezoelectric measurements; immunoassays; electrochemical measurements; optical measurements such as optical density measurements; circular dichromism; light scattering measurements such as quasielectric light scattering; polarimetry; refractometry; or turbidity measurements as described further herein.
  • A detection module is within, communicating or coincident with a portion of the main channel at or downstream of the inlet module and, in sorting embodiments, at, proximate to, or upstream of, the sorting module or branch point. The sorting module may be located immediately downstream of the detection module or it may be separated by a suitable distance consistent with the size of the molecules, the channel dimensions and the detection system. Precise boundaries for the detection module are not required, but are preferred.
  • Sensors
  • One or more detections sensors and/or processors may be positioned to be in sensing communication with the fluidic droplet. “Sensing communication,” as used herein, means that the sensor may be positioned anywhere such that the fluidic droplet within the fluidic system (e.g., within a channel), and/or a portion of the fluidic system containing the fluidic droplet may be sensed and/or determined in some fashion. For example, the sensor may be in sensing communication with the fluidic droplet and/or the portion of the fluidic system containing the fluidic droplet fluidly, optically or visually, thermally, pneumatically, electronically, or the like. The sensor can be positioned proximate the fluidic system, for example, embedded within or integrally connected to a wall of a channel, or positioned separately from the fluidic system but with physical, electrical, and/or optical communication with the fluidic system so as to be able to sense and/or determine the fluidic droplet and/or a portion of the fluidic system containing the fluidic droplet (e.g., a channel or a microchannel, a liquid containing the fluidic droplet, etc.). For example, a sensor may be free of any physical connection with a channel containing a droplet, but may be positioned so as to detect electromagnetic radiation arising from the droplet or the fluidic system, such as infrared, ultraviolet, or visible light. The electromagnetic radiation may be produced by the droplet, and/or may arise from other portions of the fluidic system (or externally of the fluidic system) and interact with the fluidic droplet and/or the portion of the fluidic system containing the fluidic droplet in such as a manner as to indicate one or more characteristics of the fluidic droplet, for example, through absorption, reflection, diffraction, refraction, fluorescence, phosphorescence, changes in polarity, phase changes, changes with respect to time, etc. As an example, a laser may be directed towards the fluidic droplet and/or the liquid surrounding the fluidic droplet, and the fluorescence of the fluidic droplet and/or the surrounding liquid may be determined. “Sensing communication,” as used herein may also be direct or indirect. As an example, light from the fluidic droplet may be directed to a sensor, or directed first through a fiber optic system, a waveguide, etc., before being directed to a sensor.
  • Non-limiting examples of detection sensors useful in the invention include optical or electromagnetically-based systems. For example, the sensor may be a fluorescence sensor (e.g., stimulated by a laser), a microscopy system (which may include a camera or other recording device), or the like. As another example, the sensor may be an electronic sensor, e.g., a sensor able to determine an electric field or other electrical characteristic. For example, the sensor may detect capacitance, inductance, etc., of a fluidic droplet and/or the portion of the fluidic system containing the fluidic droplet. In some cases, the sensor may be connected to a processor, which in turn, cause an operation to be performed on the fluidic droplet, for example, by sorting the droplet.
  • Characteristics
  • Characteristics determinable with respect to the droplet and usable in the invention can be identified by those of ordinary skill in the art. Non-limiting examples of such characteristics include fluorescence, spectroscopy (e.g., optical, infrared, ultraviolet, etc.), radioactivity, mass, volume, density, temperature, viscosity, pH, concentration of a substance, such as a biological substance (e.g., a protein, a nucleic acid, etc.), or the like.
  • A corresponding signal is then produced, for example indicating that “yes” the characteristic is present, or “no” it is not. The signal may correspond to a characteristic qualitatively or quantitatively. That is, the amount of the signal can be measured and can correspond to the degree to which a characteristic is present. For example, the strength of the signal may indicate the size of a molecule, or the potency or amount of an enzyme expressed by a cell, or a positive or negative reaction such as binding or hybridization of one molecule to another, or a chemical reaction of a substrate catalyzed by an enzyme. In response to the signal, data can be collected and/or a control system in the sorting module, if present, can be activated to divert a droplet into one branch channel or another for delivery to the collection module or waste module. Thus, in sorting embodiments, molecules or cells within a droplet at a sorting module can be sorted into an appropriate branch channel according to a signal produced by the corresponding examination at a detection module. The means of changing the flow path can be accomplished through mechanical, electrical, optical, or some other technique as described herein.
  • A preferred detector is an optical detector, such as a microscope, which may be coupled with a computer and/or other image processing or enhancement devices to process images or information produced by the microscope using known techniques. For example, molecules can be analyzed and/or sorted by size or molecular weight. Enzymes can be analyzed and/or sorted by the extent to which they catalyze chemical reaction of a substrate (conversely, substrate can be analyzed and/or sorted by the level of chemical reactivity catalyzed by an enzyme). Cells can be sorted according to whether they contain or produce a particular protein, by using an optical detector to examine each cell for an optical indication of the presence or amount of that protein. The protein may itself be detectable, for example by a characteristic fluorescence, or it may be labeled or associated with a reporter that produces a detectable signal when the desired protein is present, or is present in at least a threshold amount. There is no limit to the kind or number of characteristics that can be identified or measured using the techniques of the invention, which include without limitation surface characteristics of the cell and intracellular characteristics, provided only that the characteristic or characteristics of interest for sorting can be sufficiently identified and detected or measured to distinguish cells having the desired characteristic(s) from those which do not. For example, any label or reporter as described herein can be used as the basis for analyzing and/or sorting molecules or cells, i.e. detecting molecules or cells to be collected.
  • Fluorescence Polarization and Fluorescence Intensity
  • As described herein, the biological/chemical entity to be analyzed may itself be detectable, for example by a characteristic fluorescence, or it may be labeled or associated with a reporter that produces a detectable signal when the desired protein is present, or is present in at least a threshold amount.
  • Luminescent colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals called quantum dots or q-dots (QD) are inorganic fluorophores that have the potential to circumvent some of the functional limitations encountered by organic dyes. In particular, CdSe—ZnS core-shell QDs exhibit size-dependent tunable photoluminescence (PL) with narrow emission bandwidths (FWHM ˜30 to 45 nm) that span the visible spectrum and broad absorption bands. These allow simultaneous excitation of several particle sizes (colors) at a common wavelength. This, in turn, allows simultaneous resolution of several colors using standard instrumentation. CdSe—ZnS QDs also have high quantum yields, are resistant to photodegradation, and can be detected optically at concentrations comparable to organic dyes.
  • Quantum dots are nano-scale semiconductors typically consisting of materials such as crystalline cadmium selenide. The term ‘q-dot’ emphasizes the quantum confinement effect of these materials, and typically refers to fluorescent nanocrystals in the quantum confined size range. Quantum confinement refers to the light emission from bulk (macroscopic) semiconductors such as LEDs which results from exciting the semiconductor either electrically or by shining light on it, creating electron-hole pairs which, when they recombine, emit light. The energy, and therefore the wavelength, of the emitted light is governed by the composition of the semiconductor material. If, however, the physical size of the semiconductor is considerably reduced to be much smaller than the natural radius of the electron-hole pair (Bohr radius), additional energy is required to “confine” this excitation within the nanoscopic semiconductor structure leading to a shift in the emission to shorter wavelengths. Three different q-dots in several concentrations each can be placed in a microdroplet, and can then be used with a microfluidic device to decode what is in the drop. The Q-dot readout extension to the fluorescence station can be incorporated into the design of the microfluidic device. A series of dichroic beamsplitters, emission filters, and detectors can be stacked onto the system, allowing measurement of the required five emission channels (two fluorescence polarization signals and three q-dot bands).
  • Fluorescence Polarization (FP) detection technology enables homogeneous assays suitable for high throughput screening assays in the Drug Discovery field. The most common label in the assays is fluorescein. In FP-assay the fluorophore is excited with polarized light. Only fluorophores parallel to the light absorb and are excited. The excited state has a lifetime before the light emission occurs. During this time the labeled fluorophore molecule rotates and the polarization of the light emitted differs from the excitation plane. To evaluate the polarization two measurements are needed: the first using a polarized emission filter parallel to the excitation filter (S-plane) and the second with a polarized emission filter perpendicular to the excitation filter (P-plane). The Fluorescence Polarization response is given as mP (milli-Polarization level) and is obtained from the equation:

  • Polarization (mP)=1000*(S−G*P)/(S+G*P)
  • Where S and P are background subtracted fluorescence count rates and G (grating) is an instrument and assay dependent factor.
  • The rotational speed of a molecule is dependent on the size of the molecule, temperature and viscosity of the solution. Fluorescein has a fluorescence lifetime suitable for the rotation speeds of molecules in bio-affinity assays like receptor-ligand binding assays or immunoassays of haptens. The basic principle is that the labeled compound is small and rotates rapidly (low polarization). When the labeled compound binds to the larger molecule, its rotation slows down considerably (polarization changes from low to high polarization). Thus, FP provides a direct readout of the extent of tracer binding to protein, nucleic acids, and other biopolymers.
  • Fluorescence polarization technology has been used in basic research and commercial diagnostic assays for many decades, but has begun to be widely used in drug discovery only in the past six years. Originally, FP assays for drug discovery were developed for single-tube analytical instruments, but the technology was rapidly converted to high-throughput screening assays when commercial plate readers with equivalent sensitivity became available. These assays include such well-known pharmaceutical targets such as kinases, phosphatases, proteases, G-protein coupled receptors, and nuclear receptors. Other homogeneous technologies based on fluorescence intensity have been developed. These include energy transfer, quenching, and enhancement assays. FP offers several advantages over these. The assays are usually easier to construct, since the tracers do not have to respond to binding by intensity changes. In addition, only one tracer is required and crude receptor preparations may be utilized. Furthermore, since FP is independent of intensity, it is relatively immune to colored solutions and cloudy suspensions. FP offers several advantages in the area of instrumentation. Because FP is a fundamental property of the molecule, and the reagents are stable, little or no standardization is required. FP is relatively insensitive to drift in detector gain settings and laser power.
  • The dyes chosen for FP are commonly used in most cell- and enzyme-based assays and are designed not to overlap significantly with the q-dots. The dyes are evaluated both independently and together with the q-dots (at first off-instrument) to assess the cross-talk. Preferably, the liquid q-dot labels are read outside a spectral wavelength band currently used in FACS analysis and sorting (i.e., the dyes flourescein, Cy3, Cy5, etc). This permits the use of currently-available assays (dependent on these dyes). Using specific q-dots, crosstalk is minimized.
  • Accordingly, the present invention provides methods to label droplets and/or nanoreactors formed on a microfluidic device by using only a single dye code to avoid cross-talk with other dyes during FP. Additionally, the present invention provides methods to create FP dye codes to label compounds contained within liquids (including droplets and/or nanoreactors) where the compound is designed to be differentiated by FP on a microfluidic device. In this manner, dye codes having the same color, absorption, and emission could be used to label compounds within liquids.
  • In one aspect, the present invention is directed to the use of fluorescence polarization to label liquids. Droplets can be labeled using several means. These labeling means include, but are not limited to, the use of different dyes, quantum dots, capacitance, opacity, light scattering, fluorescence intensity (FI), fluorescence lifetime (FL), fluorescence polarization (FP), circular dichroism (CD), fluorescence correlation and combinations of all of these previous labeling means. The following disclosure describes the use of FP and FI as a means to label droplets on a microfluidic device. In addition, the use of FL as a means to adjust the overall FP of a solution, and by varying the concentration of the total FI, to create a 2-dimensional encoding scheme is demonstrated.
  • In general, molecules that take up more volume will tumble slower than a smaller molecule coupled to the same fluorophore. FP is independent of the concentration of the dye; liquids can have vastly different concentrations of FITC in them yet still have identical FP measurements.
  • In a preferred embodiment, a FP dye is an organic dye that does not interfere with the assay dye is used. Furthermore, since the total intensity of the FP dye can be quantified, a second dimension in which to label the droplet is provided. Thus, one can exploit the differences in FP to create an encoding scheme of dye within a liquid solution, including droplets. Examples of ways to exploit the differences in FP are described in WO 2007/081385 and WO 2008/063227. In a single dimension, FP can be used to create an encoding scheme. However, the present invention can also use Fluorescence Intensity (FI) of the overall solution to create even more labels in a second dimension. Interestingly, the differences of the fluorescence lifetime (FL) of two dyes with spectral overlap in the detected emission wavelength to change the overall FP of the combined solution can also be exploited.
  • Although the use of multiple compounds to which a dye molecule is attached to span a range of FP can be utilized, it is also possible to span the range using a high and low molecular weight compound set. For example, a dye can be attached to a large compound (for example streptavidin) and kept at a fixed concentration, to which a smaller compound (for example, a free dye molecule) would be titrated into the same solution. The FP of the solution can be adjusted to be in discernable increments from the value of the large molecule to somewhere slightly greater than the FP of the smaller molecule. The [total] dye intensity can be varied by varying the concentration of the mixture of the two dye-attached compounds. By varying total dye concentration and the FP, two dimensions can be used to generate the FP dye codes (FPcodes). Accordingly, many FPcodes can be generated using only two compounds.
  • This could also include use of large fluorescent proteins such as GFP and the phycobiliproteins combined with a smaller molecule.
  • Examples of dyes commonly used in biological dyes are listed in Table 2 below.
  • TABLE 2
    Examples of
    Excitation Wavelength Emission Wavelength Compatible Dyes
    450 500 Cyan 500
    483 533 SYBR Green, FAM
    523 568 HEX, VIC
    558 610 RED 610
    615 640 RED 640
    650 670 CY5
  • In another aspect, the present invention is directed labeling solids using properties other than dye emission and dye concentration. In one embodiment the solid can include, for example, a bead or location on a solid support or chip. As demonstrated above for liquids, FI and FL can be two of many dimensions of characteristics used as labels. By way of non-limiting example, it is possible to use two dyes with different FL to change the overall FP for a solid such as a bead or other mobile solid support.
  • In another embodiment, a linker can be used to couple the dye to the bead. The linker can be varied so as to allow the dye to have differing degrees of freedom in which to rotate (i.e., tumble). Varying the linker in this manner can change the FP of the attached dye, which in unique combinations can be used as a label. In some embodiments, the beads can be swollen in organic solvent and the dyes held in place by hydrophobic forces. In this case, the FP, FI, FL methods described above for liquid labeling can also be used as a means for labeling the beads. A quenching molecule can also be used to change the characteristics of a dye. Such quenching can be continuous or brought about through the interaction of a molecule, such as a peptide or nucleic acid linker, with differing means of bringing molecules together depending on the strength of linker-internal interaction (e.g., a nucleotide stem loop structure of varying lengths).
  • The reactions analyzed on the virtual, random and non-random arrays (discussed briefly below) can be also increased beyond the two (cy3 and cy5 intensities) commonly used for multiplexing. For example, different FP, FI, etc can be used as a read-out.
  • Random array decoding: Beads of the prior art use one or more pre-attached oligonucleotide-coupled beads that are held in place in a fiber-optic faceplate (for example, those used by Illiumina). The oligos on the beads are decoded using sequential hybridization of a labeled complementary oligo. The assay of the prior art uses a separate oligonucleotide complementary zipcode (‘Illumacode’) attached to each type of bead.
  • The invention described herein is superior to the methods of the prior art in that the FP, FI, FL-labeled bead or mobile solid support can be placed into a random array (e.g., a chip as manufactured by Illumina) and the FP, FI, FL used to decode the bead. The FP, FI, FL of the bead can be decoded before using the chip and the different beads ‘mapped’ as to their specific locations. Alternatively, the bead can be decoded during attachment of the assay read-out. Significantly, the methods described by the present invention can be used to pre-determine the location of each bead-type either before, or during analysis.
  • Virtual array decoding: Methods of the prior art use 2 lasers and 3 detectors to differentiate a set of 100 bead-types. The beads-types are differentiated by the FI of two different dyes present in 1 of 10 concentrations (per dye) contained within the bead, and the assay detector is used to measure fluorescein concentration on the bead. The dyes, which are added to organic-solvent swollen beads, are not directly attached to the beads, but remain held within the bead by hydrophobic forces.
  • Using the methods of the present invention as described herein, a second detector to the machines of the prior art used to measure FP can be added, thereby adding a third dimension and extending the encoding scheme beyond the 100 available in the prior art.
  • Non-random array decoding: In chips of the prior art (such as those used by Affymetrix) oligonucleotides are synthesized directly on the chip. Decoding is simply a matter of knowing the location of the assay on the chip.
  • The methods as described herein can be advantageously used in conjunction with such chips to increase the number of things that can be simultaneously analyzed (i.e., multiplexed) on the chip. By way of non-limiting example, Cy3, Cy5, FL and FP can be used as analysis markers for hybridization reactions.
  • The present invention also provides methods for labeling micro or nano-sized droplets using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). RID tags can improve the identification of the contents within the droplets. Preferably, the droplets are utilized within a microfluidic device.
  • RFID is an automatic identification method, relying on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags or transponders. An RFID tag is an object that can be attached to or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for the purpose of identification using radio waves. Chip-based RFID tags contain silicon chips and antennae. Passive tags require no internal power source, whereas active tags require a power source. Hitachi has “powder” 0.05 mm×0.05 mm RFID chips. The new chips are 64 times smaller than the previous record holder, the 0.4 mm×0.4 mm mu-chips, and nine times smaller than Hitachi's last year prototype, and have room for a 128-bit ROM that can store a unique 38-digit ID number.
  • In one embodiment, a solution containing RFID tags are emulsified into droplets and are used as a label for the identification of the material within the droplet solution. Applications include, but are not limited to; genetics, genomics, proteomics, chemical synthesis, biofuels, and others.
  • Lasers
  • To detect a reporter or determine whether a molecule, cell or particle has a desired characteristic, the detection module may include an apparatus for stimulating a reporter for that characteristic to emit measurable light energy, e.g., a light source such as a laser, laser diode, light emitting diode (LED), high-intensity lamp, (e.g., mercury lamp), and the like. Where a lamp is used, the channels are preferably shielded from light in all regions except the detection module. Where a laser is used, the laser can be set to scan across a set of detection modules from different analysis units. In addition, laser diodes or LED's may be microfabricated into the same chip that contains the analysis units. Alternatively, laser diodes or LED's may be incorporated into a second chip (i.e., a laser diode chip) that is placed adjacent to the analysis or microchip such that the laser light from the diodes shines on the detection module(s).
  • An integrated semiconductor laser and/or an integrated photodiode detector can be included on the substrate in the vicinity of the detection module. This design provides the advantages of compactness and a shorter optical path for exciting and/or emitted radiation, thus minimizing distortion and losses.
  • Fluorescence produced by a reporter is excited using a laser beam focused on molecules (e.g., DNA, protein, enzyme or substrate) or cells passing through a detection region. Fluorescent reporters can include, but are not limited to, rhodamine, fluorescein, Texas red, Cy 3, Cy 5, phycobiliprotein (e.g., phycoerythrin), green fluorescent protein (GFP), YOYO-1 and PicoGreen. In molecular fingerprinting applications, the reporter labels can be fluorescently labeled single nucleotides, such as fluorescein-dNTP, rhodamine-dNTP, Cy3-dNTP, etc.; where dNTP represents dATP, dTTP, dUTP or dCTP. The reporter can also be chemically-modified single nucleotides, such as biotin-dNTP. The reporter can be fluorescently or chemically labeled amino acids or antibodies (which bind to a particular antigen, or fragment thereof, when expressed or displayed by a cell or virus).
  • The device can analyze and/or sort cells based on the level of expression of selected cell markers, such as cell surface markers, which have a detectable reporter bound thereto, in a manner similar to that currently employed using fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) machines. Proteins or other characteristics within a cell, and which do not necessarily appear on the cell surface, can also be identified and used as a basis for sorting. The device can also determine the size or molecular weight of molecules such as polynucleotides or polypeptides (including enzymes and other proteins) or fragments thereof passing through the detection module. Alternatively, the device can determine the presence or degree of some other characteristic indicated by a reporter. If desired, the cells, particles or molecules can be sorted based on this analysis. The sorted cells, particles or molecules can be collected from the outlet channels in collection modules (or discarded in wasted modules) and used as needed. The collected cells, particles or molecules can be removed from the device or reintroduced to the device for additional coalescence, analysis and sorting.
  • Processors
  • As used herein, a “processor” or a “microprocessor” is any component or device able to receive a signal from one or more sensors, store the signal, and/or direct one or more responses (e.g., as described above), for example, by using a mathematical formula or an electronic or computational circuit. The signal may be any suitable signal indicative of the environmental factor determined by the sensor, for example a pneumatic signal, an electronic signal, an optical signal, a mechanical signal, etc.
  • The device of the present invention can comprise features, such as integrated metal alloy components and/or features patterned in an electrically conductive layer, for detecting droplets by broadcasting a signal around a droplet and picking up an electrical signal in proximity to the droplet.
  • Beads
  • The device of the present invention also comprises the use of beads and methods for analyzing and sorting beads (i.e., bead reader device). The device can read and either sort or not sort droplets containing one or more of a set of two or more beads. Each bead can be differentiated from each other bead within a set. Beads can be separated by several tags including, but not limited to, quantum dyes, fluorescent dyes, ratios of fluorescent dyes, radioactivity, radio-tags, etc. For example, a set of beads containing a ratio of two dyes in discrete amounts with an apparatus for detecting and differentiating beads containing one discrete ratio from the other beads in this set having a different ratio of the two dyes. The microfluidic device can include paramagnetic beads. The paramagnetic beads can introduce and remove chemical components from droplets using droplet coalescence and breakup events. The paramagnetic beads can also be used for sorting droplets.
  • The present invention provides methods of screening molecular libraries on beads through limited-dilution-loading and then chemical or optical release inside of droplets. Provided are methods for chemical synthesis on a bead and releasing said chemical attached to the bead using a releasing means (chemical, UV light, heat, etc) within a droplet, and then combining a second droplet to the first droplet for further manipulation. For example, tea-bag synthesis of chemicals on a bead simultaneously with a means for identifying said bead (using, for example, a mass spec tag). Using the resulting mixed-chemistry beads in a droplet within a fluid flow, and exposing the beads to UV light to release the chemical synthesized from the bead into the droplet environment. Combining the droplet containing the released chemical with a droplet containing a cell, and performing a cell-based assay. Sorting droplets having the desired characteristics (for example, turn on of a reporter gene), and then analyzing the sorted beads using mass spectroscopy.
  • The device of the present invention can comprise column separation prior to bead sorting. A device containing a channel loaded with a separating means for chromatographically sorting the sample prior to droplet formation. Such separating means could include size, charge, hydrophobicity, atomic mass, etc. The separating can be done isocratic or by use of a means for generating a gradient chemically, (for example using salt or hydrophobicity), electrically, by pressure, or etc. For example, a channel is preloaded with Sepharose size exclusion media. A sample is loaded at one end, and the droplets are formed at an opposing end. The sample separates by size prior to becoming incorporated within a droplet.
  • Sorting Module
  • The microfluidic device of the present invention can further include one or more sorting modules. A “sorting module” is a junction of a channel where the flow of molecules, cells, small molecules or particles can change direction to enter one or more other channels, e.g., a branch channel for delivery to an outlet module (i.e., collection or waste module), depending on a signal received in connection with an examination in the detection module. Typically, a sorting module is monitored and/or under the control of a detection module, and therefore a sorting module may “correspond” to such detection module. The sorting region is in communication with and is influenced by one or more sorting apparatuses. A sorting apparatus comprises techniques or control systems, e.g., dielectric, electric, electro-osmotic, (micro-) valve, etc. A control system can employ a variety of sorting techniques to change or direct the flow of molecules, cells, small molecules or particles into a predetermined branch channel. A “branch channel” is a channel which is in communication with a sorting region and a main channel. The main channel can communicate with two or more branch channels at the sorting module or “branch point”, forming, for example, a T-shape or a Y-shape. Other shapes and channel geometries may be used as desired. Typically, a branch channel receives molecules, cells, small molecules or particles depending on the molecule, cells, small molecules or particles characteristic of interest as detected by the detection module and sorted at the sorting module. A branch channel can have an outlet module and/or terminate with a well or reservoir to allow collection or disposal (collection module or waste module, respectively) of the molecules, cells, small molecules or particles. Alternatively, a branch channel may be in communication with other channels to permit additional sorting.
  • The device of the present invention can further include one or more outlet modules. An “outlet module” is an area of the device that collects or dispenses molecules, cells, small molecules or particles after coalescence, detection and/or sorting. The outlet module can include a collection module and/or a waste module. The collection module can be connected to a means for storing a sample. The collection module can be a well or reservoir for collecting and containing droplets detected to have a specific predetermined characteristic in the detection module. The collection module can be temperature controlled. The waste module can be connected to a means for discarding a sample. The waste module can be a well or reservoir for collecting and containing droplets detected to not have a specific predetermined characteristic in the detection module. The outlet module is downstream from a sorting module, if present, or downstream from the detection module if a sorting module is not present. The outlet module may contain branch channels or outlet channels for connection to a collection module or waste module. A device can contain more than one outlet module.
  • A characteristic of a fluidic droplet may be sensed and/or determined in some fashion, for example, as described herein (e.g., fluorescence of the fluidic droplet may be determined), and, in response, an electric field may be applied or removed from the fluidic droplet to direct the fluidic droplet to a particular region (e.g. a channel). A fluidic droplet is preferably sorted or steered by inducing a dipole in the uncharged fluidic droplet (which may be initially charged or uncharged), and sorting or steering the droplet using an applied electric field. The electric field may be an AC field, a DC field, etc. Methods of sorting or steering droplets in an electric field are as described in WO 2006/040551; WO 2006/040554; WO 2004/002627; WO 2004/091763; WO 2005/021151; WO 2006/096571; WO 2007/089541; WO 2007/081385 and WO 2008/063227. Improvements in the efficiency, accuracy, and reliability of the preferred dielectric droplet sorting technique described above are possibly by utilizing additional channel and electrode geometries, as described in WO 2007/081385 and WO 2008/063227.
  • Alternately, a fluidic droplet may be directed by creating an electric charge (e.g., as previously described) on the droplet, and steering the droplet using an applied electric field, which may be an AC field, a DC field, etc. As an example, an electric field maybe selectively applied and removed (or a different electric field may be applied) as needed to direct the fluidic droplet to a particular region. The electric field may be selectively applied and removed as needed, in some embodiments, without substantially altering the flow of the liquid containing the fluidic droplet. For example, a liquid may flow on a substantially steady-state basis (i.e., the average flowrate of the liquid containing the fluidic droplet deviates by less than 20% or less than 15% of the steady-state flow or the expected value of the flow of liquid with respect to time, and in some cases, the average flowrate may deviate less than 10% or less than 5%) or other predetermined basis through a fluidic system of the invention (e.g., through a channel or a microchannel), and fluidic droplets contained within the liquid may be directed to various regions, e.g., using an electric field, without substantially altering the flow of the liquid through the fluidic system.
  • In some embodiments, the fluidic droplets may be sorted into more than two channels. Alternately, a fluidic droplet may be sorted and/or split into two or more separate droplets, for example, depending on the particular application. Any of the above-described techniques may be used to spilt and/or sort droplets. As a non-limiting example, by applying (or removing) a first electric field to a device (or a portion thereof), a fluidic droplet may be directed to a first region or channel; by applying (or removing) a second electric field to the device (or a portion thereof), the droplet may be directed to a second region or channel; by applying a third electric field to the device (or a portion thereof), the droplet may be directed to a third region or channel; etc., where the electric fields may differ in some way, for example, in intensity, direction, frequency, duration, etc. In a series of droplets, each droplet may be independently sorted and/or split; for example, some droplets may be directed to one location or another, while other droplets may be split into multiple droplets directed to two or more locations.
  • In some cases, high sorting speeds may be achievable using certain systems and methods of the invention. For instance, at least about 1 droplet per second may be determined and/or sorted in some cases, and in other cases, at least about 10 droplets per second, at least about 20 droplets per second, at least about 30 droplets per second, at least about 100 droplets per second, at least about 200 droplets per second, at least about 300 droplets per second, at least about 500 droplets per second, at least about 750 droplets per second, at least about 1000 droplets per second, at least about 1500 droplets per second, at least about 2000 droplets per second, at least about 3000 droplets per second, at least about 5000 droplets per second, at least about 7500 droplets per second, at least about 10,000 droplets per second, at least about 15,000 droplets per second, at least about 20,000 droplets per second, at least about 30,000 droplets per second, at least about 50,000 droplets per second, at least about 75,000 droplets per second, at least about 100,000 droplets per second, at least about 150,000 droplets per second, at least about 200,000 droplets per second, at least about 300,000 droplets per second, at least about 500,000 droplets per second, at least about 750,000 droplets per second, at least about 1,000,000 droplets per second may be determined and/or sorted in such a fashion.
  • Sample Recovery
  • The present invention proposes methods for recovering aqueous phase components from aqueous emulsions that have been collected on a microfluidic device in a minimum number of steps and in a gentle manner so as to minimize potential damage to cell viability.
  • In one aspect, a stable aqueous sample droplet emulsion containing aqueous phase components in a continuous phase carrier fluid is allowed to cream to the top of the continuous phase carrier oil. By way of nonlimiting example, the continuous phase carrier fluid can include a perfluorocarbon oil that can have one or more stabilizing surfactants. The aqueous emulsion rises to the top or separates from the continuous phase carrier fluid by virtue of the density of the continuous phase fluid being greater than that of the aqueous phase emulsion. For example, the perfluorocarbon oil used in one embodiment of the device is 1.8, compared to the density of the aqueous emulsion, which is 1.0.
  • The creamed emulsion is then placed onto a second continuous phase carrier fluid which contains a de-stabilizing surfactant, such as a perfluorinated alcohol (e.g., 1H,1H,2H,2H-Perfluoro-1-octanol). The second continuous phase carrier fluid can also be a perfluorocarbon oil. Upon mixing, the aqueous emulsion begins to coalesce, and coalescence is completed by brief centrifugation at low speed (e.g., 1 minute at 2000 rpm in a microcentrifuge). The coalesced aqueous phase can now be removed (cells can be placed in an appropriate environment for further analysis).
  • Additional destabilizing surfactants and/or oil combinations can be identified or synthesized to be useful with this invention.
  • Additional Modules
  • The microfluidic devices of the present invention can further include one or more mixing modules, one or more delay modules, one or more acoustic actuators and/or UV-release modules, as described in WO 2007/081385 and WO 2008/063227.
  • Assays
  • The droplet generation rate, spacing and size of the water droplets made on a microfluidic device are tuned to the desired size, such as picoliter to nanoliter volumes. Additionally, droplet libraries of the present invention can be introduced back onto a medium for additional processing. Multicomponent droplets can easily be generated by bringing together streams of materials at the point where droplets are made (co-flow). Alternatively, one can combine different droplets, each containing individual reactants. This is achieved by selecting droplet sizes such that one droplet is roughly wider than the channel width and the other droplet is smaller so that the small droplets rapidly catch up to the larger droplets. An electric field is then used to induce dipoles in the droplet pairs, forcing them to combine into a single droplet and permitting them to intermix the contents.
  • Optics for fluorescence detection capable of measuring fluorophores within the aqueous droplets, while simultaneously permitting visual monitoring via a high speed video microscope. Specifically, three separate lasers provide excitation at 405 nm, 488 nm, and 561 nm wavelengths focused to a spot approximately 17 microns in diameter, illuminating each droplet as it enters the detection zone. The system is configured to detect emitted light using a series of photomultiplier tubes, and is able to detect less than 10,000 FITC molecule equivalents at a 5 kHz droplet rate.
  • A critical component for isolating sub-populations or rare cells from a heterogeneous cell mixture is a fluorescence-activated microfluidic droplet sorter as described in greater detail herein. Sorting in microfluidic devices can be done using a dielectrophoretic force on neutral droplets. Providing an alternate means that can be precisely controlled, can be switched at high frequencies, and requires no moving parts. After the contents of individual droplets are probed in the fluorescence detection zone, selected droplets can be sorted into discreet streams for recovery and further processing.
  • A key feature for improving genomic characterization of the heterogeneous mixture of cell types present in a typical tissue or biopsy would be the ability to fractionate the initial cell population into sub-populations, permitting analysis of rare cells and enabling molecular correlation studies. The microfluidic device provides the ability to sort cell-containing droplets based on fluorescent signals. A number of immediate uses for this capability include: 1) sorting cell-containing droplets away from empty droplets; 2) sorting sub-populations based on specific nucleic acid hybridization; 3) sorting sub-populations based on cell surface binding properties; 4) sorting sub-populations based on secreted activities or reporter enzyme products. A number of these approaches have already been tested in preliminary experiments, using either bacterial or mammalian cells.
  • For example, Sort-on-Generation is a combination of modules that generates single cell containing-droplets (along with approximately 10 times more empty droplets, from Poisson distribution as described herein and subsequently sorts the cell-containing droplets away from the empty droplets, based on fluorescent signals.
  • Also, it has been demonstrated the ability to sort-on-generation using DNA-intercalating dyes. This approach is enabled for any stained cell.
  • Determining the volume of an individual drop from a 2-D image in a microfluidic channel can be accomplished relatively easily with tools typically associated with microfluidics. The basic equipment needed are; simple optics with a camera, a fluorescent laser detector, a microfluidic device, and pumps.
  • A 10 pt calibration is done by plotting the average projected area vs. the average volume of a drop. The average projected area is determined by real-time image analysis of droplets during emulsion generation in a specific region of the chip. This region is clearly marked and called the calibration region. Calibration is accomplished by simultaneously logging the projected area of individual droplets for 60 s and calculating the average, and using a laser is to count the total number of droplets that pass through the channel at the calibration region. From this count, one can determine the average frequency and the average volume of a droplet. Where,
  • f = Drops t V _ = F Buffer [ uL hr ] * 10 6 [ pL uL ] f [ Drops s ] * 3600 [ s hr ]
  • Plotting this data for all points yields a calibration curve.
  • During reinjection of an emulsion, using image analysis, one can log the projected area of each individual droplet and estimate the volume of each droplet by using the calibration curve. From this data, one can calculate the average volume and size distribution for a given population of droplets.
  • The microfluidic device of the present invention can be utilized to conduct numerous chemical and biological assays, including but not limited to, creating emulsion libraries, flow cytometry, gene amplification, isothermal gene amplification, DNA sequencing, SNP analysis, drug screening, RNAi analysis, karyotyping, creating microbial strains with improved biomass conversion, moving cells using optical tweezer/cell trapping, transformation of cells by electroporation, μTAS, and DNA hybridization.
  • PCR in Droplets
  • An emulsion library comprising at least a first aqueous droplet and at least a second aqueous droplet within a fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein the at least first and the at least second droplets are uniform in size and wherein at least first droplet comprises at least a first pair or oligonucleotides and the at least second droplet comprises at least a second pair or oligonucleotides, wherein the first and second pair of oligonucleotides is different.
  • In an embodiment, the oligonucleotide is DNA; in another embodiment, the oligonucleotide is RNA. In a further embodiment, the oligonucleotide has at least 5 nucleotides, e.g., 5 to 100, 10 to 90, 12 to 80, 14 to 70, 15 to 60, 15 to 50, 15 to 40, 15 to 35, 15 to 30, 15 to 28, 15 to 25, 15 to 23, and 15 to 20 nucleotides. In one embodiment, the two oligonucleotides in the pair of oligonucleotides have the same number of nucleotides; in another embodiment, the two oligonucleotides in the pair of oligonucleotides have different number of nucleotides.
  • The present invention provides a method for amplifying a genomic DNA, comprising (a) providing a first sample fluid wherein said first sample fluid comprises an emulsion library comprising at least a first aqueous droplet and at least a second aqueous droplet within a fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein the at least first and the at least second droplets are uniform in size and wherein at least first droplet comprises at least a first pair or oligonucleotides and the at least second droplet comprises at least a second pair or oligonucleotides, wherein the first and second pair of oligonucleotides is different; (b) providing a second sample fluid wherein said second sample fluid comprises a plurality of aqueous droplets comprising said genomic DNA within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant; (c) providing a microfluidic substrate comprising at least two inlet channels adapted to carry at least two dispersed phase sample fluids and at least one main channel adapted to carry at least one continuous phase fluid; (d) flowing the first sample fluid through a first inlet channel which is in fluid communication with said main channel at a junction, wherein said junction comprises a first fluidic nozzle designed for flow focusing such that said first sample fluid forms a plurality of droplets of a first uniform size in said continuous phase; (e) flowing the second sample fluid through a second inlet channel which is in fluid communication with said main channel at a junction, wherein said junction comprises a second fluidic nozzle designed for flow focusing such that said second sample fluid forms a plurality of droplets of a second uniform size in said continuous phase, wherein the size of the droplets of the second sample fluid are smaller than the size of the droplets of the first sample fluid; (f) providing a flow and droplet formation rate of the first and second sample fluids wherein the droplets are interdigitized such that a first sample fluid droplet is followed by and paired with a second sample fluid droplet; (g) providing channel dimensions such that the paired first sample fluid and the second sample fluid droplet are brought into proximity; (h) coalescing the paired first and second sample droplets as the paired droplets pass through an electric field, and (i) amplifying said genomic DNA comprised within the coalesced droplets.
  • A unique feature of the described droplet-based microfluidic approach for working with nucleic acids is that it uses immiscible oil-encapsulated aqueous droplets to shield the DNA from the inner surfaces of the microfluidic chip, with a surfactant interface separating the aqueous droplet and its contents from the surrounding immiscible fluorocarbon oil. Therefore, DNA amplification reactions occurring inside these droplets generate material that does not interact with the channel walls, and collection of the DNA-containing droplets for subsequent manipulation and sequencing is straightforward. This technology provides a solution for amplification of DNA from single cells, allowing for both genotyping and whole genome amplification.
  • Evidence shows that specific loci can be amplified by PCR in droplets generated on the microfluidic device, either by performing PCR on-chip (with droplets moving through a serpentine channel across several different temperatures under microfluidic control), or by placing the collected droplets into a standard thermocycler. Droplets generated containing DNA and reagents required for PCR-based amplification (thermostable polymerase, dNTPs, Mg, appropriate buffer) have been demonstrated to be extremely robust, showing high stability for both on-chip and off-chip (standard thermocycler) amplification. Each droplet remains intact and separate during cycling, including during the denaturation steps at 98° C. In one embodiment, a microfluidic device as described herein, fuses droplets with individual primer pairs for PCR amplification and preparation of many exons in parallel for high throughput re-sequencing.
  • Antibodies and ELISA
  • The present invention provides a method for performing an ELISA assay, comprising (a) providing a first sample fluid wherein said first sample fluid comprises an emulsion library comprising a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein each droplet is uniform in size and comprises at least a first antibody, and a single element linked to at least a second antibody, wherein said first and second antibodies are different; (b) providing a second sample fluid wherein said second sample fluid comprises a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, said droplets comprising a test fluid; (c) providing a third sample fluid wherein said third sample fluid comprises a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, said droplets comprising at least one enzyme; (d) providing a fourth sample fluid wherein said fourth sample fluid comprises a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, said droplets comprising at least one substrate; (e) providing a microfluidic substrate comprising at least two inlet channels adapted to carry at least two dispersed phase sample fluids and at least one main channel adapted to carry at least one continuous phase fluid; (f) flowing the first sample fluid through a first inlet channel which is in fluid communication with said main channel at a junction, wherein said junction comprises a first fluidic nozzle designed for flow focusing such that said first sample fluid forms a plurality of droplets of a first uniform size in said continuous phase; (g) flowing the second sample fluid through a second inlet channel which is in fluid communication with said main channel at a junction, wherein said junction comprises a second fluidic nozzle designed for flow focusing such that said second sample fluid forms a plurality of droplets of a second uniform size in said continuous phase, wherein the size of the droplets of the second sample fluid are smaller than the size of the droplets of the first sample fluid; (h) providing a flow and droplet formation rate of the first and second sample fluids wherein the droplets are interdigitized such that a first sample fluid droplet is followed by and paired with a second sample fluid droplet; (i) providing channel dimensions such that the paired first sample fluid and the second sample fluid droplet are brought into proximity; (j) coalescing the paired first and second sample droplets as the paired droplets pass through an electric field, forming at least a first coalesced droplet; (k) flowing the third sample fluid through a third inlet channel which is in fluid communication with said main channel at a junction, wherein said junction comprises a third fluidic nozzle designed for flow focusing such that said third sample fluid forms a plurality of droplets of a third uniform size in said continuous phase, wherein the size of the droplets of the third sample fluid are smaller than the size of the droplets of at least first coalesced droplet; (l) providing a flow and droplet formation rate of the third sample fluid wherein the third sample fluid droplet and at least first coalesced droplet are interdigitized such that the at least first coalesced droplet is followed by and paired with the third sample fluid droplet; (m) providing channel dimensions such that the paired at least first coalesced droplet and the third sample fluid droplet are brought into proximity; (n) coalescing the paired at least first coalesced droplet and third sample droplets as the paired droplets pass through an electric field, forming at least a second coalesced droplet; (o) flowing the fourth sample fluid through a fourth inlet channel which is in fluid communication with said main channel at a junction, wherein said junction comprises a fourth fluidic nozzle designed for flow focusing such that said fourth sample fluid forms a plurality of droplets of a fourth uniform size in said continuous phase, wherein the size of the droplets of the fourth sample fluid are smaller than the size of the droplets of at least second coalesced droplet; (p) providing a flow and droplet formation rate of the fourth sample fluid wherein the fourth sample fluid droplet and at least second coalesced droplet are interdigitized such that the at least second coalesced droplet is followed by and paired with the fourth sample fluid droplet; (q) providing channel dimensions such that the paired at least second coalesced droplet and the fourth sample fluid droplet are brought into proximity; (r) coalescing the paired at least second coalesced droplet and fourth sample droplets as the paired droplets pass through an electric field, forming at least a third coalesced droplet, and (s) detecting the conversion of said substrate to a product by said enzyme within the at least a third coalesced droplet.
  • The present invention also provides a method for performing an ELISA assay, comprising (a) providing a first sample fluid wherein said first sample fluid comprises an emulsion library comprising a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein each droplet is uniform in size and comprises at least a first element linked to at least a first antibody, and at least a second element linked to at least a second antibody, wherein said first and second antibodies are different; (b) providing a second sample fluid wherein said second sample fluid comprises a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, said droplets comprising a test fluid (c) providing a third sample fluid wherein said third sample fluid comprises a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, said droplets comprising at least one substrate; (d) providing a microfluidic substrate comprising at least two inlet channels adapted to carry at least two dispersed phase sample fluids and at least one main channel adapted to carry at least one continuous phase fluid; (e) flowing the first sample fluid through a first inlet channel which is in fluid communication with said main channel at a junction, wherein said junction comprises a first fluidic nozzle designed for flow focusing such that said first sample fluid forms a plurality of droplets of a first uniform size in said continuous phase; (f) flowing the second sample fluid through a second inlet channel which is in fluid communication with said main channel at a junction, wherein said junction comprises a second fluidic nozzle designed for flow focusing such that said second sample fluid forms a plurality of droplets of a second uniform size in said continuous phase, wherein the size of the droplets of the second sample fluid are smaller than the size of the droplets of the first sample fluid; (g) providing a flow and droplet formation rate of the first and second sample fluids wherein the droplets are interdigitized such that a first sample fluid droplet is followed by and paired with a second sample fluid droplet; (h) providing channel dimensions such that the paired first sample fluid and the second sample fluid droplet are brought into proximity; (i) coalescing the paired first and second sample droplets as the paired droplets pass through an electric field, forming at least a first coalesced droplet, wherein if the two antibodies bind an antigen in the test sample the at least first and at least second elements interact to form a functional enzyme; (j) flowing the third sample fluid through a third inlet channel which is in fluid communication with said main channel at a junction, wherein said junction comprises a third fluidic nozzle designed for flow focusing such that said third sample fluid forms a plurality of droplets of a third uniform size in said continuous phase, wherein the size of the droplets of the third sample fluid are smaller than the size of the droplets of at least first coalesced droplet; (k) providing a flow and droplet formation rate of the third sample fluid wherein the third sample fluid droplet and at least first coalesced droplet are interdigitized such that the at least first coalesced droplet is followed by and paired with the third sample fluid droplet; (l) providing channel dimensions such that the paired at least first coalesced droplet and the third sample fluid droplet are brought into proximity; (m) coalescing the paired at least first coalesced droplet and third sample droplets as the paired droplets pass through an electric field, forming at least a second coalesced droplet, and (n) detecting the conversion of said substrate to a product by said enzyme within the at least a second coalesced droplet.
  • Small sample volumes are needed in performing immunoassays. Non-limiting examples include cases where the sample is precious or limited, i.e., serum archives, tissue banks, and tumor biopsies. Immunoassays would ideally be run in droplets where only 10 to 100 pL of sample were consumed for each assay. Specifically, the lack of a robust convenient wash step has prevented the development of ELISA assays in droplets. The present invention provides for methods in which beads can be used to perform ELISA assays in aqueous droplets within channels on a microfluidic device. The advantage of utilizing microfluidic devices is it greatly reduces the size of the sample volume needed. Moreover, a benefit of droplet based microfluidic methods is the ability to run numerous assays in parallel and in separate micro-compartments.
  • In the examples shown herein, there are several non-limiting read-outs that can be applied to signal amplification in a microfluidic device. The amplification methods include enzyme amplification and rolling circle amplification of signal that uses a nucleic-acid intermediate. In addition, a non-enzymatic means for signal amplification can also be used.
  • Cell Libraries
  • The present invention provides a method for generating an enzyme library, comprising (a) providing a first sample fluid wherein said first sample fluid comprises an emulsion library comprising a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, said droplets comprising at least one cell transformed with at least one nucleic acid molecule encoding for an enzyme, wherein said cells replicate within said droplets thereby secreting produced enzymes within the droplets; (b) providing a second sample fluid wherein said second sample fluid comprises a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, said droplets comprising at least one substrate; (c) providing a microfluidic substrate comprising at least two inlet channels adapted to carry at least two dispersed phase sample fluids and at least one main channel adapted to carry at least one continuous phase fluid; (d) flowing the first sample fluid through a first inlet channel which is in fluid communication with said main channel at a junction, wherein said junction comprises a first fluidic nozzle designed for flow focusing such that said first sample fluid forms a plurality of droplets of a first uniform size in said continuous phase; (e) flowing the second sample fluid through a second inlet channel which is in fluid communication with said main channel at a junction, wherein said junction comprises a second fluidic nozzle designed for flow focusing such that said second sample fluid forms a plurality of droplets of a second uniform size in said continuous phase, wherein the size of the droplets of the second sample fluid are smaller than the size of the droplets of the first sample fluid; (f) providing a flow and droplet formation rate of the first and second sample fluids wherein the droplets are interdigitized such that a first sample fluid droplet is followed by and paired with a second sample fluid droplet; (g) providing channel dimensions such that the paired first sample fluid and the second sample fluid droplet are brought into proximity; (h) coalescing the paired first and second sample droplets as the paired droplets pass through an electric field, and (i) detecting enzyme activity within the coalesced droplets, wherein the conversion of substrate to product indicates the presence of an enzyme library.
  • In a small library, the use of microfluidic system to emulsify a library of 3-5 bacteria strains that encode a single protease with a known range of activity against a designated substrate in microdroplets, and sort via a fluorescence assay to demonstrate the ability to identify and sort one of the cell strains that expresses a protease that is more active against a specified substrate than the other strains.
  • Further in a full library screen, the use of a microfluidic system to emulsify a library of mutagenized bacteria cells in microdroplets, identify and sort via a fluorescence assay a subpopulation of cells to produce a 104 fold enrichment of cells expressing a designated enzyme variant, and recover viable cells and enriched library.
  • The present invention provides a method for sorting a plurality of cells, comprising (a) providing a first sample fluid wherein said first sample fluid comprises an emulsion library comprising a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, said droplets comprising at least one cell labeled with an enzyme; (b) providing a second sample fluid wherein said second sample fluid comprises a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, said droplets comprising at least one substrate; (c) providing a microfluidic substrate comprising at least two inlet channels adapted to carry at least two dispersed phase sample fluids and at least one main channel adapted to carry at least one continuous phase fluid; (d) flowing the first sample fluid through a first inlet channel which is in fluid communication with said main channel at a junction, wherein said junction comprises a first fluidic nozzle designed for flow focusing such that said first sample fluid forms a plurality of droplets of a first uniform size in said continuous phase; (e) flowing the second sample fluid through a second inlet channel which is in fluid communication with said main channel at a junction, wherein said junction comprises a second fluidic nozzle designed for flow focusing such that said second sample fluid forms a plurality of droplets of a second uniform size in said continuous phase, wherein the size of the droplets of the second sample fluid are smaller than the size of the droplets of the first sample fluid; (f) providing a flow and droplet formation rate of the first and second sample fluids wherein the droplets are interdigitized such that a first sample fluid droplet is followed by and paired with a second sample fluid droplet; (g) providing channel dimensions such that the paired first sample fluid and the second sample fluid droplet are brought into proximity; (h) coalescing the paired first and second sample droplets as the paired droplets pass through an electric field; (i) detecting enzyme activity within the coalesced droplets, and (j) selecting cells where the enzyme has converted substrate to product.
  • Whole Genome Amplification
  • Whole Genome Amplification (WGA) is a method that amplifies genomic material from minute samples, even from a single cell, enabling genome sequencing. A number of commercially available WGA methodologies have been developed, including PCR-based methods like degenerate oligonucleotide primed PCR (DOP-PCR) and primer extension pre-amplification (PEP-PCR), and multiple displacement amplification (MDA) which uses random hexamers and using high fidelity Φ29 or Bst DNA polymerases to provide isothermal amplification. Several analyses have shown that MDA products generate the least amplification bias and produce a higher yield of amplified DNA. This method has been used recently to amplify genomic DNA for sequencing from single cells, with partial genome sequencing demonstrated. MDA-based WGA has also been performed on cell populations selected using flow-FISH.
  • Non-specific DNA synthesis due to contaminating DNA and non-template amplification (NTA) are characteristic problems associated with WGA. Recent evidence demonstrates that NTA and also amplification bias are reduced when using very small reaction volumes, with one group using 60 nanoliter microfluidic chambers for single cell WGA reactions. Based on these findings, the use of picoliter-volume droplets in a microfluidic system reduces NTA even further. In addition, amplification from contaminating DNA templates will be constrained to individual compartments (droplets), minimizing the overwhelming effects of contamination in bulk WGA reactions.
  • Next Generation Sequencing
  • Next generation sequencing instruments offer two distinct advantages in the pursuit of microbiome characterization. First, they do not require conventional clone-based approaches to DNA sequencing, and thus ensure that the commonly experienced biasing against specific sequences in the E. coli host system does not impact the representation of genomes being sequenced. Second, they offer a streamlined and robust workflow for preparing DNA for sequencing that has far fewer steps than conventional workflows. Hence, a library can be prepared for sequencing in about 2 days. The Roche/454 FLX pyrosequencer was the first “next generation”, massively parallel sequencer to achieve commercial introduction (in 2004) and uses a sequencing reaction type known as “pyrosequencing” to read out nucleotide sequences. In pyrosequencing, each incorporation of a nucleotide by DNA polymerase results in the release of pyrophosphate, which initiates a series of downstream reactions that ultimately produce light by the firefly enzyme luciferase. The light amount produced is proportional to the number of nucleotides incorporated (up to the point of detector saturation). In the Roche/454 instrument, the DNA fragments to be sequenced first have specific A and B adapter oligos ligated to their ends, and then are mixed with a population of agarose beads whose surfaces carry oligonucleotides complementary to 454-specific adapter sequences on the DNA fragments, such that each bead is associated with a single DNA fragment. By isolating each of these fragment:bead complexes into individual oil:water micelles that also contain PCR reactants, thermal cycling (“emulsion PCR”) of the micelles produces approximately one million copies of each DNA fragment on the surface of each bead. These amplified single molecules are then sequenced en masse by first arraying them into a PicoTiter Plate (PTP-a fused silica capillary structure), that holds a single bead in each of several hundred thousand single wells, providing a fixed location at which each sequencing reaction can be monitored. Enzyme-containing beads that catalyze the downstream pyrosequencing reaction steps then are added to the PTP, and centrifuged to surround the agarose beads. On instrument, the PTP acts as a flow cell, into which each pure nucleotide solution is introduced in a stepwise fashion, with an imaging step after each nucleotide incorporation step. Because the PTP is seated opposite a CCD camera, the light emitted at each bead that is being actively sequenced is recorded. In practice, the first four nucleotides (TCGA) on the adapter fragment adjacent to the sequencing primer added in library construction are first to be sequenced, and this sequence corresponds to the sequential flow of nucleotides into the flow cell. This strategy allows the 454 base calling software to calibrate the light emitted by a single nucleotide incorporation, which then enables the software to call novel bases downstream according to the light emission levels. However, the calibrated base calling cannot properly interpret long stretches (>6) of the same nucleotides occurring in a stretch (“homopolymer” run), due to detector saturation, so these stretches are prone to base insertion and deletion errors during base calling. By contrast, since each incorporation step is nucleotide specific, substitution errors are rarely encountered in Roche/454 sequence reads.
  • Enzyme Inhibitor Screening
  • The present invention provides a method for screening for an enzyme inhibitor, comprising (a) providing a first sample fluid wherein said first sample fluid comprises an emulsion library comprising a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, said droplets comprising at least one compound; (b) providing a second sample fluid wherein said second sample fluid comprises a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, said droplets comprising at least one enzyme and substrate; (c) providing a microfluidic substrate comprising at least two inlet channels adapted to carry at least two dispersed phase sample fluids and at least one main channel adapted to carry at least one continuous phase fluid; (d) flowing the first sample fluid through a first inlet channel which is in fluid communication with said main channel at a junction, wherein said junction comprises a first fluidic nozzle designed for flow focusing such that said first sample fluid forms a plurality of droplets of a first uniform size in said continuous phase; (e) flowing the second sample fluid through a second inlet channel which is in fluid communication with said main channel at a junction, wherein said junction comprises a second fluidic nozzle designed for flow focusing such that said second sample fluid forms a plurality of droplets of a second uniform size in said continuous phase, wherein the size of the droplets of the second sample fluid are smaller than the size of the droplets of the first sample fluid; (f) providing a flow and droplet formation rate of the first and second sample fluids wherein the droplets are interdigitized such that a first sample fluid droplet is followed by and paired with a second sample fluid droplet; (g) providing channel dimensions such that the paired first sample fluid and the second sample fluid droplet are brought into proximity; (h) coalescing the paired first and second sample droplets as the paired droplets pass through an electric field, and (i) detecting enzyme activity within the coalesced droplets, wherein the failure of the enzyme to convert the substrate to product indicates the compound is an enzyme inhibitor.
  • The present invention provides compositions and methods for generating, manipulating, and analyzing aqueous droplets of precisely defined size and composition. These microfluidic device-generated droplets can encapsulate a wide variety of components, including those that are used in enzymatic assays. Kinases are a therapeutically important class of enzymes, and this collaboration examines the feasibility of performing analysis and interrogation of kinases with potentially inhibitory compounds using the described microfluidic platform and systems.
  • High-Throughput Droplet Live-Dead Assay Screening
  • The present invention provides a method for screening for a live cell, comprising (a) providing a first sample fluid wherein said first sample fluid comprises an emulsion library comprising a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, said droplets comprising at least one cell; (b) providing a second sample fluid wherein said second sample fluid comprises a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, said droplets comprising at least one cell-membrane-permeable fluorescent dye and at least one cell-membrane-impermeable fluorescent dye; (c) providing a microfluidic substrate comprising at least two inlet channels adapted to carry at least two dispersed phase sample fluids and at least one main channel adapted to carry at least one continuous phase fluid; (d) flowing the first sample fluid through a first inlet channel which is in fluid communication with said main channel at a junction, wherein said junction comprises a first fluidic nozzle designed for flow focusing such that said first sample fluid forms a plurality of droplets of a first uniform size in said continuous phase; (e) flowing the second sample fluid through a second inlet channel which is in fluid communication with said main channel at a junction, wherein said junction comprises a second fluidic nozzle designed for flow focusing such that said second sample fluid forms a plurality of droplets of a second uniform size in said continuous phase, wherein the size of the droplets of the second sample fluid are smaller than the size of the droplets of the first sample fluid; (f) providing a flow and droplet formation rate of the first and second sample fluids wherein the droplets are interdigitized such that a first sample fluid droplet is followed by and paired with a second sample fluid droplet; (g) providing channel dimensions such that the paired first sample fluid and the second sample fluid droplet are brought into proximity; (h) coalescing the paired first and second sample droplets as the paired droplets pass through an electric field, and (i) detecting fluorescence within the coalesced droplets, wherein the detection of fluorescence of cell-membrane-permeable dye indicates a droplet comprising a dead cell and the detection of fluorescence of cell-membrane-impermeable dye indicates a droplet comprising a live cell.
  • Single-cell analysis in the context of cell populations avoids the loss of information on cellular systems that is inherent with averaged analysis. In recent years, this type of analysis has been aided by the development of sophisticated instrumentation. Microfluidic technologies have the potential to enhance the precision and throughput of these single-cell assays by integrating and automating the cell handling, processing, and analysis steps. However, major limitations in microfluidic systems hinder the development of high-throughput screening platforms. One challenge is to achieve sufficiently short mixing times. Mixing under the laminar flow conditions typically found in microfluidic devices occurs by diffusion, a relatively slow process for biological material and biochemical reactants. Most importantly, as the scale of these reactors shrinks, contamination effects due to surface adsorption and diffusion limit both the smallest sample size and the repeated use of channels for screening different conditions. These limitations are major hurdles when this technology is to be applied for screening libraries containing thousands of different compounds each corresponding to different experimental conditions.
  • The confinement of reagents in droplets in an immiscible carrier fluid overcomes these limitations. The droplet technology is an essential enabling technology for a high-throughput microfluidic screening platform. Droplet isolation allows the cells to be exposed to discrete concentrations of chemicals or factors. Most importantly, the droplet format ensures that the sample materials never touch the walls of the microfluidic channels and thus eliminates the risk of contamination. The reagents can be mixed within a droplet and sample dispersion is simultaneously minimized. The advantages of this technique include the physical and chemical isolation of droplets from one another and the ability to digitally manipulate these droplets at very high-throughput. Finally, the absence of any moving parts and in particular valves brings the degree of robustness required for screening applications.
  • Possible cell applications include screen for combinatorial cell assays, cloning, FACS-like assays, and polymer encapsulation for cell-based therapies. As a small number of cells are consumed per sample, this technology is particularly suitable for working with cells of limited availability, like primary cells. In addition, for rare cell sorting, the dilution factor in the collection droplets can be orders of magnitude smaller than for a standard bench-scale flow cytometer. Finally, the use of fluorocarbons that can dissolve large amount of oxygen as carrier fluids is regarded as a key feature for long-term survival of encapsulated cells.
  • Numerous modules have been developed for performing a variety of key tasks on droplets, They include the generation of monodisperse aqueous droplets and its use for cell encapsulation. Droplets can be fused or coalesced, their content mixed, incubated on-chip, and their incubation time tuned with an oil-extractor, their fluorescent content can be interrogated, and finally they can be sorted.
  • The assembly of such modules into complete systems provides a convenient and robust way to construct droplet microfluidic devices that would fulfill the promises of the droplet technology as a screening platform.
  • Example 9 illustrates some examples of live-dead assays. The device has been designed to sequentially accomplish six different functions. (i) separated cell and dye encapsulations, (ii) fusion of droplets containing cells and droplets containing dyes, (iii) mixing of cell with dyes in each fused droplet, (iv) oil-extraction to modulate on-chip incubation of droplets, (v) droplet incubation on-chip and (vi) interrogation of the fluorescent signal of each droplet. Furthermore, encapsulated cells can be collected into a syringe and re-inject the emulsion for on-chip scoring.
  • Kits
  • As a matter of convenience, predetermined amounts of the reagents, compound libraries, and/or emulsions described herein and employed in the present invention can be optionally provided in a kit in packaged combination to facilitate the application of the various assays and methods described herein. Such kits also typically include instructions for carrying out the subject assay, and may optionally include the fluid receptacle, e.g., the cuvette, multiwell plate, microfluidic device, etc. in which the reaction is to be carried out.
  • Typically, reagents included within the kit are uniquely labeled emulsions containing tissues, cells, particles, proteins, antibodies, amino acids, nucleotides, small molecules, substrates, and/or pharmaceuticals. These reagents may be provided in pre-measured container (e.g., vials or ampoules) which are co-packaged in a single box, pouch or the like that is ready for use. The container holding the reagents can be configured so as to readily attach to the fluid receptacle of the device in which the reaction is to be carried out (e.g., the inlet module of the microfluidic device as described herein). In one embodiment, the kit can include an RNAi kit. In another embodiment, the kit can include a chemical synthesis kit. It will be appreciated by persons of ordinary skill in the art that these embodiments are merely illustrative and that other kits are also within the scope of the present invention.
  • DEFINITIONS
  • The terms used in this specification generally have their ordinary meanings in the art, within the context of this invention and in the specific context where each term is used. Certain terms are discussed below, or elsewhere in the specification, to provide additional guidance to the practitioner in describing the devices and methods of the invention and how to make and use them. It will be appreciated that the same thing can typically be described in more than one way. Consequently, alternative language and synonyms may be used for any one or more of the terms discussed herein. Synonyms for certain terms are provided. However, a recital of one or more synonyms does not exclude the use of other synonyms, nor is any special significance to be placed upon whether or not a term is elaborated or discussed herein. All publications, patent applications, patents, and other references mentioned herein are incorporated by reference. In the case of conflict, the present specification, including definitions, will control. In addition, the materials, methods, and examples are illustrative only and are not intended to be limiting.
  • The invention is also described by means of particular examples. However, the use of such examples anywhere in the specification, including examples of any terms discussed herein, is illustrative only and in no way limits the scope and meaning of the invention or of any exemplified term. Likewise, the invention is not limited to any particular preferred embodiments described herein. Indeed, many modifications and variations of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art upon reading this specification and can be made without departing from its spirit and scope. The invention is therefore to be limited only by the terms of the appended claims along with the full scope of equivalents to which the claims are entitled.
  • As used herein, “about” or “approximately” shall generally mean within 20 percent, preferably within 10 percent, and more preferably within 5 percent of a given value or range.
  • The term “molecule” means any distinct or distinguishable structural unit of matter comprising one or more atoms, and includes for example polypeptides and polynucleotides.
  • The term “polymer” means any substance or compound that is composed of two or more building blocks (‘mers’) that are repetitively linked to each other. For example, a “dimer” is a compound in which two building blocks have been joined together.
  • The term “polynucleotide” as used herein refers to a polymeric molecule having a backbone that supports bases capable of hydrogen bonding to typical polynucleotides, where the polymer backbone presents the bases in a manner to permit such hydrogen bonding in a sequence specific fashion between the polymeric molecule and a typical polynucleotide (e.g., single-stranded DNA). Such bases are typically inosine, adenosine, guanosine, cytosine, uracil and thymidine. Polymeric molecules include double and single stranded RNA and DNA, and backbone modifications thereof, for example, methylphosphonate linkages.
  • Thus, a “polynucleotide” or “nucleotide sequence” is a series of nucleotide bases (also called “nucleotides”) generally in DNA and RNA, and means any chain of two or more nucleotides. A nucleotide sequence typically carries genetic information, including the information used by cellular machinery to make proteins and enzymes. These terms include double or single stranded genomic and cDNA, RNA, any synthetic and genetically manipulated polynucleotide, and both sense and anti-sense polynucleotide (although only sense stands are being represented herein). This includes single- and double-stranded molecules, i.e., DNA-DNA, DNA-RNA and RNA-RNA hybrids, as well as “protein nucleic acids” (PNA) formed by conjugating bases to an amino acid backbone. This also includes nucleic acids containing modified bases, for example thio-uracil, thio-guanine and fluoro-uracil.
  • The polynucleotides herein may be flanked by natural regulatory sequences, or may be associated with heterologous sequences, including promoters, enhancers, response elements, signal sequences, polyadenylation sequences, introns, 5′- and 3′-non-coding regions, and the like. The nucleic acids may also be modified by many means known in the art. Non-limiting examples of such modifications include methylation, “caps”, substitution of one or more of the naturally occurring nucleotides with an analog, and internucleotide modifications such as, for example, those with uncharged linkages (e.g., methyl phosphonates, phosphotriesters, phosphoroamidates, carbamates, etc.) and with charged linkages (e.g., phosphorothioates, phosphorodithioates, etc.). Polynucleotides may contain one or more additional covalently linked moieties, such as, for example, proteins (e.g., nucleases, toxins, antibodies, signal peptides, poly-L-lysine, etc.), intercalators (e.g., acridine, psoralen, etc.), chelators (e.g., metals, radioactive metals, iron, oxidative metals, etc.), and alkylators. The polynucleotides may be derivatized by formation of a methyl or ethyl phosphotriester or an alkyl phosphoramidate linkage. Furthermore, the polynucleotides herein may also be modified with a label capable of providing a detectable signal, either directly or indirectly. Exemplary labels include radioisotopes, fluorescent molecules, biotin, and the like.
  • The term “dielectrophoretic force gradient” means a dielectrophoretic force is exerted on an object in an electric field provided that the object has a different dielectric constant than the surrounding media. This force can either pull the object into the region of larger field or push it out of the region of larger field. The force is attractive or repulsive depending respectively on whether the object or the surrounding media has the larger dielectric constant.
  • “DNA” (deoxyribonucleic acid) means any chain or sequence of the chemical building blocks adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T), called nucleotide bases, that are linked together on a deoxyribose sugar backbone. DNA can have one strand of nucleotide bases, or two complimentary strands which may form a double helix structure. “RNA” (ribonucleic acid) means any chain or sequence of the chemical building blocks adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and uracil (U), called nucleotide bases, that are linked together on a ribose sugar backbone. RNA typically has one strand of nucleotide bases.
  • A “polypeptide” (one or more peptides) is a chain of chemical building blocks called amino acids that are linked together by chemical bonds called peptide bonds. A “protein” is a polypeptide produced by a living organism. A protein or polypeptide may be “native” or “wild-type”, meaning that it occurs in nature; or it may be a “mutant”, “variant” or “modified”, meaning that it has been made, altered, derived, or is in some way different or changed from a native protein, or from another mutant.
  • An “enzyme” is a polypeptide molecule, usually a protein produced by a living organism, that catalyzes chemical reactions of other substances. The enzyme is not itself altered or destroyed upon completion of the reaction, and can therefore be used repeatedly to catalyze reactions. A “substrate” refers to any substance upon which an enzyme acts.
  • As used herein, “particles” means any substance that may be encapsulated within a droplet for analysis, reaction, sorting, or any operation according to the invention. Particles are not only objects such as microscopic beads (e.g., chromatographic and fluorescent beads), latex, glass, silica or paramagnetic beads, but also includes other encapsulating porous and/or biomaterials such as liposomes, vesicles and other emulsions. Beads ranging in size from 0.1 micron to 1 mm can be used in the devices and methods of the invention and are therefore encompassed with the term “particle” as used herein. The term particle also encompasses biological cells, as well as beads and other microscopic objects of similar size (e.g., from about 0.1 to 120 microns, and typically from about 1 to 50 microns) or smaller (e.g., from about 0.1 to 150 nm). The devices and methods of the invention are also directed to sorting and/or analyzing molecules of any kind, including polynucleotides, polypeptides and proteins (including enzymes) and their substrates and small molecules (organic or inorganic). Thus, the term particle further encompasses these materials.
  • The particles (including, e.g., cells and molecules) are sorted and/or analyzed by encapsulating the particles into individual droplets (e.g., droplets of aqueous solution in oil), and these droplets are then sorted, combined and/or analyzed in a microfabricated device. Accordingly, the term “droplet” generally includes anything that is or can be contained within a droplet.
  • A “small molecule” or “small molecule chemical compound” as used herein, is meant to refer to a composition that has a molecular weight of less than 500 Daltons. Small molecules are distinguished from polynucleotides, polypeptides, carbohydrates and lipids.
  • As used herein, “cell” means any cell or cells, as well as viruses or any other particles having a microscopic size, e.g. a size that is similar to or smaller than that of a biological cell, and includes any prokaryotic or eukaryotic cell, e.g., bacteria, fungi, plant and animal cells. Cells are typically spherical, but can also be elongated, flattened, deformable and asymmetrical, i.e., non-spherical. The size or diameter of a cell typically ranges from about 0.1 to 120 microns, and typically is from about 1 to 50 microns. A cell may be living or dead. Since the microfabricated device of the invention is directed to sorting materials having a size similar to a biological cell (e.g. about 0.1 to 120 microns) or smaller (e.g., about 0.1 to 150 nm) any material having a size similar to or smaller than a biological cell can be characterized and sorted using the microfabricated device of the invention. Thus, the term cell shall further include microscopic beads (such as chromatographic and fluorescent beads), liposomes, emulsions, or any other encapsulating biomaterials and porous materials. Non-limiting examples include latex, glass, or paramagnetic beads; and vesicles such as emulsions and liposomes, and other porous materials such as silica beads. Beads ranging in size from 0.1 micron to 1 mm can also be used, for example in sorting a library of compounds produced by combinatorial chemistry. As used herein, a cell may be charged or uncharged. For example, charged beads may be used to facilitate flow or detection, or as a reporter. Biological cells, living or dead, may be charged for example by using a surfactant, such as SDS (sodium dodecyl sulfate). The term cell further encompasses “virions”, whether or not virions are expressly mentioned.
  • A “virion”, “virus particle” is the complete particle of a virus. Viruses typically comprise a nucleic acid core (comprising DNA or RNA) and, in certain viruses, a protein coat or “capsid”. Certain viruses may have an outer protein covering called an “envelope”. A virion may be either living (i.e., “viable”) or dead (i.e., “non-viable”). A living or “viable” virus is one capable of infecting a living cell. Viruses are generally smaller than biological cells and typically range in size from about 20-25 nm diameter or less (parvoviridae, picornoviridae) to approximately 200-450 nm (poxyiridae). However, some filamentous viruses may reach lengths of 2000 nm (closterviruses) and are therefore larger than some bacterial cells. Since the microfabricated device of the invention is particularly suited for sorting materials having a size similar to a virus (i.e., about 0.1 to 150 nm), any material having a size similar to a virion can be characterized and sorted using the microfabricated device of the invention. Non-limiting examples include latex, glass or paramagnetic beads; vesicles such as emulsions and liposomes; and other porous materials such as silica beads. Beads ranging in size from 0.1 to 150 nm can also be used, for example, in sorting a library of compounds produced by combinatorial chemistry. As used herein, a virion may be charged or uncharged. For example, charged beads may be used to facilitate flow or detection, or as a reporter. Biological viruses, whether viable or non-viable, may be charged, for example, by using a surfactant, such as SDS.
  • A “reporter” is any molecule, or a portion thereof that is detectable, or measurable, for example, by optical detection. In addition, the reporter associates with a molecule, cell or virion or with a particular marker or characteristic of the molecule, cell or virion, or is itself detectable to permit identification of the molecule, cell or virion's, or the presence or absence of a characteristic of the molecule, cell or virion. In the case of molecules such as polynucleotides such characteristics include size, molecular weight, the presence or absence of particular constituents or moieties (such as particular nucleotide sequences or restrictions sites). In the case of cells, characteristics which may be marked by a reporter includes antibodies, proteins and sugar moieties, receptors, polynucleotides, and fragments thereof. The term “label” can be used interchangeably with “reporter”. The reporter is typically a dye, fluorescent, ultraviolet, or chemiluminescent agent, chromophore, or radio-label, any of which may be detected with or without some kind of stimulatory event, e.g., fluoresce with or without a reagent. In one embodiment, the reporter is a protein that is optically detectable without a device, e.g. a laser, to stimulate the reporter, such as horseradish peroxidase (HRP). A protein reporter can be expressed in the cell that is to be detected, and such expression may be indicative of the presence of the protein or it can indicate the presence of another protein that may or may not be coexpressed with the reporter. A reporter may also include any substance on or in a cell that causes a detectable reaction, for example by acting as a starting material, reactant or a catalyst for a reaction which produces a detectable product. Cells may be sorted, for example, based on the presence of the substance, or on the ability of the cell to produce the detectable product when the reporter substance is provided.
  • A “marker” is a characteristic of a molecule, cell or virion that is detectable or is made detectable by a reporter, or which may be coexpressed with a reporter. For molecules, a marker can be particular constituents or moieties, such as restrictions sites or particular nucleic acid sequences in the case of polynucleotides. For cells and virions, characteristics may include a protein, including enzyme, receptor and ligand proteins, sacchamides, polynucleotides, and combinations thereof, or any biological material associated with a cell or virion. The product of an enzymatic reaction may also be used as a marker. The marker may be directly or indirectly associated with the reporter or can itself be a reporter. Thus, a marker is generally a distinguishing feature of a molecule, cell or virion, and a reporter is generally an agent which directly or indirectly identifies or permits measurement of a marker. These terms may, however, be used interchangeably.
  • The invention is further described below, by way of the following examples. The examples also illustrate useful methodology for practicing the invention. These examples do not limit the claimed invention.
  • EXAMPLES Example 1
  • Example 1 shows methods of surfactant syntheses.
  • Below of the reaction scheme for creating the surfactants utilized in stabilizing the droplet libraries provided by the instant invention.
  • Figure US20100022414A1-20100128-C00001
  • Reagent Table is as follows:
  • Other (density,
    purity, safety,
    Name MW Moles/Equiv. Amount used misc.)
    Krytox FSH 6500 1.54 mmol (1 eq) 10.0 g
    Oxalyl 126.93 15.4 mmol 1.3 mL d = 1.5 g/mL;
    Chloride (10 eq) (1.95 g) b.p. 62-65° C.
    HFE 7100 250.06 50 mL b.p. 61° C.
  • The procedure includes, adding 10.0 g (1.54 mmol; 1 eq) of Krytox acid FSH in 50 mL HFE 7100 (not anhydrous) at right under Ar was added 1.95 g (15.4 mmol; 10 eq) of Oxalyl Chloride dropwise. Stirred 10 min, then the reaction was warmed to gentle reflux (note boiling points of solvent and reagent). Some bubbling was noted, even before reaction had reached reflux. Continued overnight.
  • The following day, the reaction was very slightly cloudy, and contained a very small amount of a yellow solid. Cooled, HFE and excess Oxalyl chloride evaporated. Residue dissolved in 40 mL fresh HFE, then filtered to remove the solid. HFE evaporated again, residue placed under hivac for 1 hr. Yield of a cloudy white oil 10.14 g. Used without further purification.
  • Figure US20100022414A1-20100128-C00002
  • The reagent table is as follows:
  • Name MW Moles/Equiv. Amount used Other (density, purity, safety, misc.)
    JSJ 73-019 6518 1.55 mmol (2 eq) 10.14 g used crude
    JSJ 73-006 568 0.77 mmol (1 eq) 0.441 g
    Triethylamine 101.19 2.33 mmol (3 eq) 0.325 mL d = 0.726; b.p. 88° C.
    Tetrahydrofuran   20 mL b.p. 66° C.
    FC 3283 521   40 mL b.p. 123-33° C.; dried over CaSO4
  • The procedure includes, drying the amine was by placing under hivac rotovap at a bath temp of 60° C. for 4 hrs. To a solution of 0.441 g (0.77 mmol; 1 eq) of PEG; 600 diamine J and 0.325 mL (2.33 mmol; 3 eq) of Et3N in 20 mL anhydrous THF at rt under Ar was added a solution of 10.14 g (1.55 mmol; 2 eq) of crude JSJ 73-019 in 40 mL FC 3283. A white precipitate (Et3N.HCl) was noted to form in the reaction and on the flask walls. The milky-white two-phase suspension was stirred well overnight.
  • The THF and most FC was evaporated. This left a solid residue dispersed in the FC solvent (Et3N.HCl). Oil residue diluted with 50 mL FC 3283, then filtered through Celite. Celite washed with 2×30 mL FC 3283. The solid left in the flask was found to be water soluble, suggesting that it was Et3N.HCl. The filtrate was cloudy white. FC 3283 evaporated using hivac and 60° C. bath. Kept as such for ˜1.5 hrs to evaporate all solvent.
  • Sample submitted for 19F NMR. Peak for the CF was in the correct position, indicating amide had formed
  • Figure US20100022414A1-20100128-C00003
  • The reagent table is as follows:
  • Other (density,
    Amount purity, safety,
    Name MW Moles/Equiv. used misc.)
    PEG 600 (Fluka) 600 0.125 (1 eq)  75.0 g Avg. MW 600;
    CAS
    25322-65-3;
    m.p.
    17-22° C.
    p-Toluene 190.65 0.283 (2.3 eq) 53.93 g
    Sulfonyl
    chloride
    Tetrahydrofuran   525 mL b.p. 66° C.,
    Sodium 40.00 0.506 (4.05 20.25 g not anhydrous
    Hydroxide eq)
    Water   156 mL
  • The procedure included adding to a solution of 20.25 g (0.506 mol; 4.05 eq) of NaOH in 156 mL water cooled in an ice-bath to ˜0° C. (not under inert atmosphere) was added a solution of 75.0 g (0.125 mol; 1 eq, 2 eq of hydroxyl) of PEG 600 in 300 mL of THF dropwise via addition funnel. Internal temp was kept 5° C. during the addition. After complete addition, the slightly cloudy reaction was stirred while warming to rt over 1 hr. Following this, the reaction was again cooled to ˜0° C. and a solution of 53.93 g (0.283 mol; 2.3 eq) of Tosyl chloride in 225 mL THF was added dropwise via addition funnel, again keeping the internal temp ˜10° C. during the addition. Reaction allowed to stir overnight while warming to rt.
  • Layers allowed to separate in an addition funnel, THF separated from aqueous layer and evaporated. Residue dissolved in 600 mL EtOAc and recombined w/aqueous from above. Shaken, separated. Organic washed 3×125 mL water, then with brine, dried over MgSO4. Stirred over the weekend.
  • Filtered, solvent evaporated to give a colorless oil, which was dried under hivac rotovap 3 hrs at ˜60° C. This gave 91.95 g of a colorless oil (81% yield). This was a typical yield for this reaction.
  • Figure US20100022414A1-20100128-C00004
  • The reagent table includes:
  • Other (density,
    Moles/ Amount purity, safety,
    Name MW Equiv. used misc.)
    JSJ 73-078 910 102 mmol 92.75 g used crude
    (1 eq)
    Potassium 185.22 224 mmol  41.5 g
    Phthalimide (2.2 eq)
    Dimethylformamide 73.09   600 mL b.p. 153° C.
  • The procedure includes adding to a solution of 92.75 g (102 mmol; 1 eq) of JSJ 73-078 in 600 mL anhydrous DMF at rt under Ar was added 41.5 g (224 mmol; 2.2 eq) of Potassium phthalimide as a solid in 2 portions. The heterogeneous solution was then warmed slowly to 85-90° C. (internal temp) and the r×n stirred overnight. The phthalimide slowly went into solution and the color became more yellow. A small amount of the phthalimide wasn't consumed, remaining a solid dispersed in the reaction.
  • While still warm, the reaction was poured into a separate flask and most of the DMF was evaporated (hivac at 80° C.). Any remaining solution was kept warm while the DMF was being evaporated. The resulting sludgy solid was diluted EtOAc (˜1 L in total) and filtered. The sludge was triturated in a smaller portion of EtOAc (200 mL) and filtered again to ensure all product was recovered. Solid was triturated w/another 200 mL EtOAc. Filtrate was then concentrated to give a yellow oil. Continued pumping on oil under hivac at 80° C. for several hours to remove residual DMF. This gave 57.93 g of orange-yellow oil. This was typical yield for this reaction.
  • Figure US20100022414A1-20100128-C00005
  • The reagent table includes:
  • Other (density,
    Moles/ Amount purity, safety,
    Name MW Equiv. used misc.)
    JSJ 73-081 860  67 mmol 57.93 g used crude
    (1 eq)
    Hydrazine, 32.05 471 mmol 15 g (15 mL) d = 1.021 g/mL,
    anhydrous (7 eq) b.p. 113° C.
    Tetrahydrofuran 300 mL b.p. 66° C.
    Methanol 300 mL b.p. 65° C.
  • The procedure includes adding to a solution of 57.93 g (67 mmol; 1 eq) of crude JSJ 73-081 in 300 mL anhydrous MeOH and 300 mL anhydrous THF at rt under Ar was added 15 mL (471 mmol; 7 eq) of Hydrazine and the reaction stirred (mechanical stirring used) at rt for 1.5 hrs. After 45 min, white solid began to form from the homogeneous solution. This was thought to be the byproduct of the hydrazine-phthalimide reaction. The reaction was warmed to 40° C. and stirred overnight under Ar. The stirring became slightly more difficult as more solid formed, so the stirring was increased slightly.
  • The reaction appeared the same, very thick with the solid. Rxn cooled, THF and MeOH evaporated. The residue was diluted w/EtOAc (300 mL) then filtered. Filtration was relatively easy, solid washed well w/EtOAc (200 mL). Filtrate concentrated, upon which additional solid was noted. Residue diluted back in EtOAc (300 mL), giving a slightly cloudy solution (diamine may not be completely soluble in this volume of EtOAc). Filtered, solvent evaporated, giving a yellow oil.
  • This oil was placed under hivac rotovap at ˜70° C. for several hours to remove residual solvents, Hydrazine, and also possibly any residual DMF brought from the SM in the previous step.
  • Example 2
  • Example 2 shows PEG-Amine derived fluorosurfactant syntheses
  • A PEG-amine derived fluorosurfactant can be made by the following process: 10.0 g of Kytox 157 FSH (PFPE, 6500 g/mol, 0.00154 mole) was dissolved in 25.0-mL of FC-3283 (521 g/mol, 45.5 g, 0.0873 mole). 0.567 g PEG 600 Diamine (566.7 g/mol, 0.001 mole, 0.65 mol eq.) was dissolved in 10.0-mL of THF (72.11 g/mol, 8.9 g, 0.1234 mole). The resulting solutions were then combined and emulsified. The resulting emulsion was spun on a BUCHI rota-vap. at ˜75% for ˜20 hours. The crude reaction mixture was then placed in centrifuge tubes with equal volumes of DI H2O, emulsified and centrifuged at 15,000 rpm for 15-minutes. Once the emulsion was broken, the oil layer was extracted, dried with anhydrous sodium sulfate and filtered over a 0.45-um disposable nylon filter. The filtered oil was then evaporated on a BUCHI rota-vap. model R-200 fitted with a B-490 water bath for =2-hours at 70° C.
  • The procedure is depicted in Scheme 1:
  • Figure US20100022414A1-20100128-C00006
  • FIG. 5 shows Ammonium Carboxylate Salt of Krytox 157 FSH 2 Wt % in FC 3283 without PEG amine salt (Panel A) and with PEG 600 Diammonium Carboxylate Salt of Krytox 157 FSH at 4.0% by volume (Panel B) (Flow Rates: 2000 ul/hr (FC oil), 500 ul/hr (aq)). The difference in the number of coalesced drops in the right image indicates that the PEG amine salt is effective in stabilizing emulsions. Emulsions made with the Ammonium Carboxylate Salt of Krytox 157 FSH 2 Wt % in FC 3283 with PEG 600 Diammonium Carboxylate Salt of Krytox 157 FSH co-surfactant added at 4.0% by volume were shown to remain stable when reinjected into a microfluidic channel.
  • Example 3 Primer Library Generation
  • The primer droplet library generation is a Type IV library generation. FIG. 6 shows a schematic of the primer library generation. Step 1 of the library formation is to design primers for loci of interest. There are no constraints on primer design associated with traditional multiplex PCR. Step 2 requires synthesis of the primer pairs using standard oligo synthesis. After the library elements are created, the primer pairs are reformatted as droplets, where only one primer pair present in each droplet. Each droplet contains multiple copies of the single primer pair directed to a single target of interest. After the droplets for each type of primer pair is created, the emulsions are pooled as primer library. The droplet stability prevents cross-contamination of primer pairs.
  • Primer Library for Genome Selection
  • A pooled primer library can be placed onto a microfluidic device as provided by the instant invention. Each primer library droplet follows an inlet channel that intersects with another inlet channel, which has droplets containing gDNA, Taq, dNTPs and any other materials needed to perform PCR. At the intersection the two inlet channels merge into a single main channel where the two different types of droplets, i.e., the primer library droplet and the PCR component droplets travel singularly until they are coalesced. The droplets are coalesced within the main channel in which they are traveling, at a widened portion of the main channel. In addition to the widening in the channel, electrodes are used to coalesce the droplets containing the primer libraries and the droplets containing the PCR components. The coalesced droplets then continue along the same main channel and are collected onto well containing plates. The droplets in the plates are subjected to thermocycling to permit PCR amplification. The amplified DNA can then be sequenced by any means known in the art. The relative number of sequencing reads from each of 20 targeted exons can be plotted using primer libraries against human genomic DNA.
  • Primer Library for Digital qPCR Method
  • Disposable PDMS/glass microfluidic devices were designed with regions maintained at 95° C., and regions maintained at 67° C. and further including interrogation neckdowns. Aqueous fluid was infused into the microfluidic device perpendicularly to two channels flowing immiscible oil which generated 65 pL (50 um) droplets. The aqueous fluid contained the following reagents:
      • 50 mM Tris/HCl (pH 8.3)
      • 10 mM KCl
      • 5 mM (NH4)2SO4
      • 3.5 mM MgCl2
      • 0.2 mM dNTP
      • 0.5% Tetronics
      • 0.1 mg/mlBSA
      • 0.2 units per μL of FastStart Taq DNA polymerase
      • 0.5 μM each of forward and reverse primers
      • 0.25 μM FAM-labeled probe quenched with a 3′ BHQ1
      • 1 μM Alexa Fluor 594
      • Serial dilutions of the pAdeasy-1 vector (Stratagene, La Jolla, Calif.) were made from 60 to 0.0006 ng/uL or from 600 copies per/droplet to 0.006 copies per/droplet
  • The concentrations of the diluted DNA were verified by qPCR using a traditional real-time thermocycler. PCR primers and probe were designed to detect a 245 bp region of the Adenovirus genome. Droplets were generated at a rate of 500 per second. The channels on the microfluidic device conveyed the droplets through of 2 thermal zones at a 95° C. and 67° C. for 34 passes which were the equivalent of 34 cycles of two step PCR with the following cycling parameters:
      • 1 cycle-3 min hot start
      • 34 cycles:
        • 95° C. for 15 seconds
        • 68° C. for 40 seconds
  • PCR droplets were interrogated at specific “neckdowns” which were 100 micron long regions of the microfluidic device where the channel width and depth decreased forcing droplets into a single file. A two wavelength laser excitation and detection system was used to interrogate the fluorescence at each of the neckdowns at cycles 4, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, and 34. A fluorescent dye, Alexa Fluor 594, provided a constant signal in each droplet that was used for droplet detection without inhibiting PCR amplification efficiency or yield.
  • The distribution of fluorescence signal among droplets was determined as the droplets pass through the excitation lasers (488 nm and 561 nm) at the last interrogation neckdown (cycle 34). A bimodal distribution of FAM fluorescence was observed for droplets with starting template concentrations of less than one molecule per droplet, indicating the presence of two populations corresponding to empty droplets and droplets that supported amplification. A time trace of fluorescence signals from those droplets is readily plotted as those droplets pass one-by-one through the excitation lasers. For each of the Adenovirus dilutions examined, the percentage of PCR positive droplets was plotted versus cycle number.
  • Successful amplification was detected at Adenovirus concentrations as low as 0.006 copies per drop (0.003 pg/μl). Following amplification, the droplets collected from the microfluidic device were broken and analyzed by automated electrophoresis to confirm a product of the appropriate size. Consistent with the fluorescence data, get analysis showed an increase in total product as the amount of starting material was increased. The observed titers were compared with the average percentage of positive reactions predicted for each starting template concentration by Poisson statistics and by MPN (most probable number) (see Table below).
  • TABLE 3
    Comparison of Observed Amplification Distribution to Poisson Statistics and MPN.
    Template Concentration PCR Positive Droplets
    Copies per Droplet Expected Expected (Poisson,
    Copies per Droplet (MPN adjusted)a Observed (Poisson) MPN adjusted)a
    0.006 0.0050 (±0.000082) 2.08% 0.60% 0.49-0.51%
    0.06  0.050 (±0.00082) 11.7% 5.82% 4.76-4.95%
    0.3  0.25 (±0.0041) 20.3% 25.9% 21.6-22.4%
    0.6  0.50 (±0.0082) 32.6% 45.1% 38.6-39.8%
    6   5.0 (±0.082) 89.0% 99.8% 99.2-99.4%
    60    50 (±0.82) 95.9%  100% 100%
    600   500 (±8.2) 98.2%  100% 100%
    aMPN calculation based on the 4 lowest dilutions was 0.83 ± 0.017. Adjusted values are within 95% confidence.
  • A percentage of droplets that supported amplification was plotted versus starting copy number compared to that predicted by Poisson. Very good agreement was seen between the percentage of droplets that supported amplification and the predicted Poisson distribution. Given the accuracy of the data for endpoint analysis this droplet-based strategy appears to be ideal for quantitative PCR applications that require single molecule detection.
  • Example 4 Generating Simple Element Droplets
  • As described in detail herein, the formation of Type TI library droplets, which encapsulate a library element, e.g., cell or bead, follow a Poisson Distribution. Using the following, equation, the distributions were calculated based on theory using the following equation:
  • P ( N ) = ( CV ) N - CV N ! P = Probability of N particles per drop C = injection concentration V = droplet volume
  • and experimental results are based on beads that were injected at a concentration of 40 million/ml into 23 μm drops (6.37 pL); CV=0.2548. The results are shown in the following table:
  • Theoretical Poisson Experimental
    P (N) Distribution Distribution # of Drops Counted
    P (0) 77.5 79.8 1010
    P (1) 19.7 17.3 219
    P (2) 2.5 2.5 32
    P (3 and more) 0.3 0.4 5
    Total 100% 100% 1266
  • Example 5 Antibody-Bead Libraries—ELISA in Droplets
  • The primer droplet library generation is a Type II library generation. FIG. 3 shows a schematic of the antibody pair library generation. Reagent solutions 1 through n, where n is the number of parallel ELISA assays to be performed, are prepared in separate vials. Each solution contains two antibodies, one bound to beads and one free in solution. It is often desirable, but not essential, for the unbound antibody to be biotinylated or for it to be conjugated to an enzyme. The beads are optically labeled using dyes, quantum dots or other distinguishing characteristics that make each of the n bead types uniquely identifiable, these characteristics can be also geometrical shape or features or fluorescence intensity or fluorescence polarization. For the emulsion library preparation: in separate locations, beads of each type are encapsulated in reagent droplets; the reagent contains an unbound second antibody matched for a specific immunoassay. It is often desirable, but not essential to have exactly one bead in a droplet. Droplets having exactly one bead are collected by sorting on droplet generation in a microfluidic device. The emulsion library consists of a pooled collection of the n different droplet types. The droplet stability prevents cross-contamination of antibody pairs.
  • FIG. 3 shows the test fluid is the sample fluid used to analyze one or more immunoassays. Example test fluids include serum, sputum, urine or tumor biopsies. In step 1 the test fluid is dispersed into droplets of uniform volume and combined with a single droplet from the library. There may be unpaired droplets of the library material. In step 2 the beads are recovered, washed in bulk, a readout enzyme is introduced. Non-limiting examples of readout enzymes could include a conjugate streptavidin-enzyme (typical enzymes are, for example but not limited to: β-Galactasidase, alkaline phosphatase, horseradish peroxidase), or conjugate antibody-enzyme (for example the same list of enzymes), followed by a final wash. In step 3 the beads are put back on microfluidic device at a low concentration so that limiting dilution conditions result. Most droplets will contain zero beads and most bead-containing droplets will have only one bead. Droplets containing exactly one bead will be used for the remainder of the assay. Droplets with no beads or more than one bead are sorted and discarded as discussed above. A fluorogenic substrate is added to the droplets under co-flow conditions at the time of droplet generation. The substrate is enzymatically turned-over to make a fluorescent product proportional to the concentration of analyte (and readout enzyme) in the sample fluid. An optical signal indicating the bead type and immunoassay number information is read on the beads simultaneously with the fluorescence signal from the product. This is done at one or more time points after the droplet is generated. Bead handling may benefit from using magnetic beads.
  • In some cases it may be advantageous to enhance step one with a sort procedure to remove the droplets containing excess beads that have not had the test fluid added to them. The sort can be triggered either by droplet size or through the introduction of a fluorescent dye to the test fluid.
  • In some cases it may be advantageous to collect all beads on-chip. This is achieved with a micro-fabricated bead filter. Beads can then be washed, introduced to additional reagents, and subsequently followed by a final wash. By performing all of the previous steps all on-chip, the need for bulk processing of beads is eliminated.
  • In some cases it is difficult to re-space beads after the final wash of step 1. In those cases it may be advantageous to capture beads in isolation on-chip. In the example, the substrate is added in bulk and the diffusion of the product around the bead is measured. There are several other non-limiting examples of methods that could also be applied in a microfluidic device. For example, one could use a tyramide amplification assay.
  • Auto-loading of sample fluids, injection loop and dispense techniques can be utilized to enhance efficiency. Test fluids can be run sequentially using conventional auto-loaders and sample injection loops. Each sample would need to be separated by a rinse fluid and the off-chip processing of beads would require that the beads from each test fluid be collected separately.
  • Droplet ELISA Performance—Reported Enzyme
  • The activity of reporter enzyme bound to single positive beads (anti-m-biotin) or single negative beads in 30 um droplets can be assayed with HorseRadish Peroxidase (HRP) enzyme. Under the assay conditions, the beads were injected at a final concentration 10 million/ml, HRP readout at 10 minute time point—Amplex Ultra Red 100 uM, hydrogen peroxide 1 mM. HRP allows for adequate separation of bead containing droplets from empty droplets. Additionally, a linear response is seen down to 10 molecules in a 30 um drop (at 10 minutes).
  • Droplet ELISA Performance—Binding
  • Similar binding kinetics are seen when performing ELISA in a tube when compared to performance in droplets. Specifically, similar binding kinetics and a linear calibration curve is seen using droplets.
  • Droplet ELISA Performance—Full Assay
  • Serum concentration can be measured accurately and is able to be reproduced, generally within a CV of less that 6% as shown in the Table below that shows the results of serum sample replicates (˜60,000 droplets/run)
  • t = 0 min t = 10 min
    Antigen pg/ml All drops Empty drops Bead drops
    Human serum 18.2 21.7 252
    1:1600
    Human serum 19.7 25.8 264
    1:1600
    Human serum 23.5 25.6 278
    1:1600
    Positive control 40.5 56.2 4272
    beads
  • Example 6
  • Sorting Cells for Secreted Enzymatic Activity
  • Molecular biology methods allow for generation of large libraries of mutant enzymes, which can be cloned DNA, which can be developed into a mutagenized DNA library that is then put into a bacterial host. The droplet based screening is high-throughput, highly accurate and has low reagents costs. The droplets provide an accurate high-throughput screen versus a halo assay. Specifically, the DNA enzyme contained within the bacterial host is encapsulated within a droplet that also contains a fluorogenic substance, creating a droplet library of the bacteria, where only a single bacteria is contained with the droplets. All droplets, however, contain the fluorogenic substrate. After the droplet library is created the bacteria are allowed to replicate for a set time period, i.e., overnight. Using a green filter shows the discrete bacteria, within particular droplets, and using a red filter shows the secreted enzyme.
  • Droplet libraries can also be used in enzyme activity detection with single cell growth and enzyme secretion. A droplet library can include a number of droplets containing a single cell, where other droplets do not contain any cells. The cells remain in the droplets overnight and grow into clonal populations. Both the discrete bacteria and the secreted enzyme are detected with an overlay of assay and cell fluorescence. The droplet library is then sorted, such that the droplets all contain a clonal population of bacteria having secreted the desired enzyme. The droplet library enables a single cell generation to result in clonal populations within single droplets to be used in assays and or to be sorted.
  • Activity in droplets is similar to that seen in microtitre plates. Matching rank orders with microtiter plate assays and droplet assays show similar rank orders using either method.
  • Cell droplet libraries enable the sorting of the most active stain from a mixed cell library. In one example, droplets were generated with four individual strains and optical labeling using specific fluorescein concentrations (labeling plotted on y-axis). All of the droplets were collected into the same syringe and the mixed droplets were re-injected onto a microfluidic device after overnight growth at 30° C. A scatter plot shows the four labeled populations of droplets starting with no assay signal (on generation), and droplets having growing cells secreting protease showing assay activity moving to the right (after 16 hrs). The origin of each droplet is clearly identified, with the assay signal strength for each droplet type matching the appropriate strain ranking. Starting from a dilution of 1 positive in 100 Negatives viable bacteria can be recovered from sorted droplets to achieve sorted population.
  • In another example, a 5-member library sorting can be achieved. A starting ratio of one Pos #4-containing droplet to 30 cell-containing droplets was used. Pos#3 cells only are kanamycin resistant. After recovering and plating out the contents of the sorted droplets, there were 19 kanamycin-resistant colonies out of 1131 total colonies. This is equivalent to an apparent false positive rate of 1.7%.
  • Sorting the most active strain can also be done with large (i.e., 2 million members) mixed cell libraries. Further exemplified is a parent library of 2×106 discrete cell types (bacteria secreting mutagenized enzyme library) was placed into droplets for growth and screening. Two levels of sorting threshold stringency were used to recover either the top 100 cells or the top 10K cell. After re-growth, each population was placed in droplets for an enriched library analytical run. Three populations were optically labeled, and five minutes of data were collected after cell growth and assay development in droplets. Clear enrichment of the parent library is seen in the Top 10K-Enriched Library. Validation of Test Library#1 enrichment is seen. White and red filtered microscope images of the Parent Library (Test Library #1) in droplets after growth are observed. Similar images of the Top 110K-Enriched Library are seen. Clear enrichment for active clones are also observed.
  • Example 7 Sorting Cells for Biomarkers Using Enzyme Amplification—Flow Cytometry
  • FIG. 7 shows a schematic of the encapsulation of enzyme labeled individual cells in a substrate containing droplets. In contrast, traditional flow cytometry utilizes fluor-labeled antibodies. The contents of the droplets are then amplified, such that the contents of the droplet produce a labeled product. The contents are then put onto the inicrofluidic device in order to sort/recover the desired products.
  • A particular example is the U937 Monocyte Droplets, where cell library of an antibody, reporter enzyme and cell stain is prepared and co-flowed into droplets with the assay substrate. Depending on the contents of the droplet, a different signal is produced and the number of cells per droplet follows a Poisson distribution, where 8.4% of the droplets have a single cell, i.e., 25356 single cell droplets out of 300943 total droplets. Additionally, the enzyme amplified signal increases over time. The droplet libraries also enable multiplexed assays with optical labeling. Various labels can be utilized and overlayed. In a comparison of FACS and droplet sorting, droplet sorting provides improved cell population fractionation.
  • Example 8 Cell Libraries—Bacterial Libraries for Antibody Screening
  • Screen libraries of bacterially produced scFv's can also be developed. In one example, transformed bacteria are encapsulated and incubated at 37° C. After incubation the droplets are combined with droplets that contain beads, antigens and a detection antibody. After the two different droplets are combined they are collected and sorted. The positive droplets are then broken and the contents are recovered and sequenced. The process is able to screen for scFv's in droplets at a rate of about 1×106 per hour. The droplet based binding assays utilize localized fluorescence detection of scFV binding. Specifically, the diffuse signal becomes bright and localized on the capture bead.
  • Example 9 Compound Libraries—Screening for Inhibitor Enzymes
  • The present invention provides Immobilized Metal-Ion Affinity Partitioning (IMAP) FP detection of kinase reaction progress. Significant achievements allowing the instant method include:
      • Solving problems handling IMAP, such as precipitation and providing proper mixing.
      • Fast mixing/equilibrium in droplets allows direct on-chip analysis.
        Initially, a significant precipitation of the IMAP particles in the syringe, particularly when present at high concentrations was observed. A mechanical mixing device and protocols was utilized to minimize this problem. Subsequently, this problem was fully solved by varying the ratio of buffers provided in Molecular Devices' Progressive Binding Buffer system, with a final concentration of 50% A:B buffer used for all assays. Buffer B contains a high salt concentration which prevented aggregation, and in addition allows a single buffer system to be used for many different kinases (using different substrates with a range of acidity).
  • There are several distinct steps in performing kinase assays within droplets. First the reaction components are encapsulated inside droplets generated by a microfluidic device and collected into a syringe. Next, the refrigerated syringe is brought up to the reaction temperature, and the ‘emulsified’ reaction mixture proceeds to react for a defined amount of time. Finally, the reaction emulsion is re-injected and each individual droplet is analyzed when it flows past a laser detector. In this scheme, detection of the phosphorylated reaction product is via measurement of its Fluorescence Polarization (FP) after binding to the commercially available Immobilized Metal-Ion Affinity Partitioning (IMAP) kit reagents (Molecular Probes). The scheme incorporates a formulation step allowing chemical compounds to be tested for their inhibitory properties towards kinases.
  • The fluorescence polarization is measured for each droplet and changes upon binding. Specifically, the phosphorylated product binds to IMAP and increases its FP. Compound/DMSO dilution and encapsulation of the reaction reagents into droplets is formulated on the microfluidic device.
  • In one example, two sets of droplets are initially generated, one from an aqueous stream made of compound (provided in 70% DMSO) and ATP (nozzle 1), and the other from an aqueous stream containing the kinase and substrate in a reaction buffer (nozzle 2). These two droplet types are subsequently coalesced via the application of voltage from the electrode, generating the final reaction mixture droplets which is collected into a glass syringe.
  • When generating the compound/ATP droplets, fluid flow rates are set such that the compound that is initially in 70% DMSO is diluted to a concentration of 10% DMSO in the droplets generated by nozzle 1. The volume ratio of droplets generated at nozzle 1 vs. nozzle 2 is 1 to 3, therefore when droplets from nozzle 1 are coalesced with droplets from nozzle 2 (containing the kinase and substrate) there is another 4 fold dilution of DMSO is therefore 28-fold (the concentration of DMSO in the final reaction mix is 2.5%).
  • Coalescence of droplets with IMAP, IMAP binding, and timed readout of droplets are observed. Specifically, IMAP particles are encapsulated inside droplets which are subsequently coalesced with the emulsified reaction mixture droplets as they are being re-injected. The droplets enter a delay line which provides sufficient time for each droplet to be interrogated using an FP readout as it moves from left to right through the microfluidic channel shown.
  • A combined microfluidic device design was also developed in order to improve emulsion stability (by reducing microfluidic device connection manipulations) and to reduce the time required for switching microfluidic devices and re-equilibrating fluid pressures. In this design, the same channel is used for both emulsion collection and re-injection, allowing for emulsion generation, IMAP coalescence and FP readout all on one microfluidic device. This design provides for a higher degree of automation and reproducibility by reducing operator manipulations of the inicrofluidic devices and optics, reducing opportunities for contaminants to be introduced into the microfluidic system, and provides better control of the operation time.
  • In order to generate kinetic data on the kinase reaction progress, a collection of the reaction droplet emulsion at 4° C. was provided, to prevent the enzymatic reaction from proceeding until the temperature is raised. Once the emulsion has been generated, the syringe can be raised to any temperature desired (e.g. room temperature or 30° C.). All of the experiments shown in this report were performed at room temperature. Time course experiments were also performed by varying the time that the emulsion was kept at room temperature, before re-injection and coalescence with the IMAP detection reagent. Automated protocols were established allowing for time points to be collected every 10 minutes over a period up to 4 hours.
  • Optical components have been defined and developed to enable FP detection. Optical components were assembled, using a 25-milliwatt solid-state laser to generate a 10 micron focused laser spot in the microfluidic channel, allowing a fluorescence signal to be measured for each droplet. The prototype instrument used in this study is able to detect approximately 10,000 FITC molecules encapsulated in a 30 micron droplet passing through the detection point at a rate of up to 10,000 per second.
  • Binding of the IMAP particle to the phosphorylated peptide substrate can be directly observed using the microfluidic device. As each droplet moves at a defined flow rate through the circuitry, observation at different positions after IMAP coalescence defines specific times after binding. A delay line allows measurements over approximately 20 seconds after binding IMAP. Binding of the Akt positive control phospho-peptide to IMAP and the reaction of Abl-tide substrate with AbI kinase are seen. Binding of the IMAP reagent to both of these phospho-peptides reaches equilibrium within 10 seconds. Further, a comparison of on-chip and plate reader assays using 3 compounds where % inhibition time courses for AbI kinase and compounds E, A, and 11 show improved resolution for on-chip assays.
  • Example 10
  • Compound Libraries—Screening for Cytotoxic Drugs
  • In one example, one nozzle is used to encapsulate U937 mammalian cells that are cultivated in RPMI supplemented with fetal calf serum (10% v/v) under saturated CO2 atmosphere (5%). Flow-focusing geometry to form the droplets was used. A water stream is infused from one channel through a narrow constriction; oil streams hydrodynamically focus the water stream and reduce its size as it passes through the constriction resulting in a “geometry-controlled” breakup of the droplet. The size of the water droplets is controlled in part by the relative flow rates of the oil and the water and in part by the nozzle section dimensions. The fluorinated oil contains a fluorocarbon surfactant (Ammonium Carboxylate Salt of Perfluoropolyether, 1% w/w) to stabilize the droplets. Cell density upon injection with discussion on Poisson's distribution and single cell analysis % drop size. Pluronic F-68 (0.1% final solution) a shear-protectant, is added to the cells just prior the injection to minimize the effect of shear-stress. The other nozzle generates droplets containing the Calcein-AM and Sytox Orange (Invitrogen) dyes that are used to respectively score live and dead cells. In brief, Calcein-AM is membrane permeant, non-fluorescent and diffuses into cells where the acetoxy groups are hydrolyzed by nonspecific esterases. The hydrolyzed dye (Calcein) is both cell membrane impermeant and fluorescent. Sytox Orange is impermeant and excluded from viable cells, but is able to enter cells with compromised membranes. In this case, it binds to DNA by intercalating between the bases with little sequence specificity and its fluorescence is greatly enhanced. Finally, a fluoro-surfactant (Zonyl-FSO, 1.3%, Dupont) was added in the dye solution to prevent the interaction of the dyes with the carboxylate group of the main surfactant. The droplet streams are interdigitated so that each cell droplet pairs with a dye droplet before entering the coalescence module. To this end, the fact that smaller droplets flow at higher velocities than larger droplets due to the parabolic flow velocity distribution in microfluidic channels was exploited. The small dye droplets catch up and come into contact with the larger cell droplets, but do not coalesce because they are stabilized with surfactant. In addition, in order to have each cell droplet paired with a dye droplet the formation rate of dye droplets is higher than the formation rate of cell droplets formation in a ratio close to 1:2. Coalescence is controllably induced when a pair of droplets passes through an alternative electric field (˜300V.cm−1, 100 kHz). The expansion in the coalescing region allows for a dramatic catching up of the small droplet to the large droplet and accounts for a very robust coalescence (fewer than 0.1% misses). The volume of the expansion is big enough to slow the large droplet down so that the small droplet always catches up to the large droplet, but doesn't allow the next droplet to catch up and make contact with the pair to be coalesced. After the droplet pairs are coalesced, their content, i.e. cells and dyes, is mixed by traveling through a passive serpentine mixer. Because the Calcein-AM dye has to be processed enzymatically by the cells to become fluorescent, the droplets need to be incubated on-chip for tens of minutes. To achieve this type of incubation on-chip the cross-section (600 μm×250 μm) and the length of the channel (1,550 mm) was increased so that the flow sweeps through a large volume. This design results in a significant residence time on the microfluidic device. In addition, to modulate with ease the incubation period without changing the flowrates used for generating the droplets oil from the flowing stream was extracted. The oil extractor consists of a series of T-junction whose sections are much smaller than the droplet size, which are used to specifically extract oil and reduce the overall flowrate and hence the droplet velocity. The combined use of the incubation line and the oil extractor results in a significant on-chip residency time of the droplets. Typically, the live-dead assay experiments are carried out with an incubation time of 70 minutes on the microfluidic device. For consistent fluorescent detection, all the cells are illuminated in the same conditions by confining them through a constriction and by using a slit geometry for the excitation spot. A confocal optical set-up is used and the signal is collected with a set of photomultipliers at a rate of 100 kHz.
  • A typical fluorescent readout is provided, over a timescale of 100 ms. The cell growth medium gives a dim fluorescent background which is much lower than the live-dead assay signals. To compensate for this low signal, some fluorescein (10 μM) (Invitrogen) was added into the dye solution to get a clear fluorescent signature of the droplets which is characterized by an approximately rectangular cross-section. Peak signals corresponding to cell staining are characterized by higher maximum signal and narrower Forward Half Maximum. They can be clearly distinguished on top of the homogeneous signal. Data processing software has been developed to extract different parameters (height, integrated area . . . ) after interpolation and curve fitting from each droplet signal. After scoring the cells retain a normal morphology without any apparent sign of shearing. Cell density upon injection with discussion on Poisson's distribution and single cell analysis % drop size.
  • To test the performances of the assay, a series of experiments were conducted to test its specificity and its sensitivity. First the signal specificity was checked by injecting and scoring with the live-dead assay either only live or dead cells. Dead cells were prepared by incubating fresh cells with 70% Ethanol for 5 minutes. The experiment demonstrates that the assay is very specific as all the cells are scored properly. In addition, it shows that the injection does not kill the cells over a short-term period, in agreement with other's observations.
  • Second, the assay was test to see whether it was able to score all the injected cells disregarding their cell state (either alive or dead). To this purpose all the cells with a red dye (Qdot® 655 wheat germ agglutinin, Invitrogen) were identified and checked that they were all scored. Again, live cells and dead cells were scored separately. It is noteworthy that these numbers are the result of the combined efficiencies of all the modules used for the live-dead assay, demonstrating the robustness of this assay and technology.
  • Third, to assess the usefulness of this assay for screening purpose a series of known ratios of live and dead cells were scored in the range of 0-10% dead cells. Indeed, the fraction of positive hits for a cytotoxicity large-scale screen is expected to be in the order of a few percent. For example, as little as 5% positive cells can be reproducibly detected in a sample population of 500-1,000 measured cells.
  • Finally, it was demonstrated that encapsulated cells can be collected into a syringe and the emulsions re-injected for on-chip scoring. This ability is an essential feature of the technology for conducting screens, as the cells will have to be incubated with compounds for a much longer time than achievable on-chip.
  • It was observed that the cell emulsion which is re-injected through the lower nozzle is still monodisperse. The stability depends critically on the use of the fluoro-surfactant and design of the microfluidic circuit to avoid uncontrolled coalescence. By the use of a scatter plot, it is determined that most of the cells are able to survive the collection-reinjection procedure.
  • The droplet microfluidic technology will facilitate an expansive list of microfluidic applications. In particular high-throughput cell screening and combinatorial screening at the single cell level will greatly benefit from this technology platform. The major advantages of this technology are the absence of contact between the sample and the channel walls eliminating contamination, and high-throughput manipulation.
  • The toxicity assay with droplets requires encapsulating cells determining the difference between live cells and dead cells. In order to get a reading of the droplet and fluorescent level therein, the droplet is elongated for detection. The cell viability does not significantly change over time (>3 days) in the droplets.

Claims (14)

  1. 1. An emulsion library comprising a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein each droplet is uniform in size and comprises the same aqueous fluid and comprises a different library element.
  2. 2. An emulsion library comprising at least a first aqueous droplet and at least a second aqueous droplet within a fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein the at least first and the at least second droplets are uniform in size and comprise a different aqueous fluid and a different library element.
  3. 3. An emulsion library comprising a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein each droplet is uniform in size and comprises at least a first antibody, and a single element linked to at least a second antibody, wherein said first and second antibodies are different.
  4. 4. An emulsion library comprising a plurality of aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein each droplet is uniform in size and comprises at least a first element linked to at least a first antibody, and at least a second element linked to at least a second antibody, wherein said first and second antibodies are different.
  5. 5. The emulsion library of claims 1 and 2, wherein each droplet comprises no more than one library element.
  6. 6. The emulsion library of claims 1 and 2, wherein each droplet comprises a plurality of library elements.
  7. 7. The emulsion library of claims 1 and 2, wherein each droplet is less than 100 μm.
  8. 8. The emulsion library of claims 1 and 2, wherein the fluorosurfactant is a block copolymer consisting of one or more perfluorinated polyether (PFPE) blocks and one or more polyethylene glycol (PEG) blocks.
  9. 9. The emulsion library of claim 8, wherein the fluorosurfactant is a triblock copolymer consisting of a PEG center block covalently bound to two PFPE blocks by amide linking groups.
  10. 10. The emulsion library of claims 1 and 2, wherein the emulsion library is stable for at least 30 days.
  11. 11. The emulsion library of claims 1 and 2, further comprising a label.
  12. 12. The emulsion library of claim 11, wherein said label can be detected by fluorescence polarization, fluorescence intensity, fluorescence lifetime, fluorescence energy transfer, pH, ionic content, temperature or combinations thereof.
  13. 13. A method for forming an emulsion library comprising:
    providing a single aqueous fluid comprising different library elements,
    encapsulating each library element into an aqueous droplet within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein each droplet is uniform in size and comprises the same aqueous fluid and comprises a different library element, and
    pooling the aqueous droplets within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, thereby forming an emulsion library.
  14. 14. A method for forming an emulsion library comprising:
    providing at least a first aqueous fluid comprising at least a first library of elements,
    providing at least a second aqueous fluid comprising at least a second library of elements,
    encapsulating each element of said at least first library into at least a first aqueous droplet within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant,
    encapsulating each element of said at least second library into at least a second aqueous droplet within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant, wherein the at least first and the at least second droplets are uniform in size and comprise a different aqueous fluid and a different library element, and
    pooling the at least first aqueous droplet and the at least second aqueous droplet within an immiscible fluorocarbon oil comprising at least one fluorosurfactant thereby forming an emulsion library.
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