Microfluidics is the flow of liquids through small channels typically of 10 to 100 micrometers (about the width of a human hair). An emerging technology, microfluidic droplets adds new functionally by confining reagents, proteins or cells in small droplets. Water droplets are produced and transported in inert oil. The content of each droplet do not mix and therefore droplets can be considered test tubes of picoliter volume.
Droplets are ideal vessels for carrying small quantities of chemical or biological reagents. However techniques are needed to perform the basic operations needed for assays. Therefore, our lab develops technique to control the position and content of microdroplets. We also work on methods to precisely control the fusion of individual droplets to initiate chemical or enzymatic reactions on a tiny scale.
We use these microdroplets for the analysis and study of protein and cellular systems. The properties of these platforms, small volume and a large number of independent measurements, enables studies that are not accessible by other techniques. In a collaboration with Prof. Guillem Pratx of Radiation Oncology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, we have developed platforms for the analysis of single-cell metabolism. Recently, we have focused on novel methods to sort single cells based on their metabolism.