Droplet-based microfluidic systems allow the generation and manipulation of discrete droplets contained within an immiscible continuous phase. They leverage immiscibility to create discrete volumes that reside and move within a continuous flow. Significantly, such segmented-flows allow for the production of monodisperse droplets at rates in excess of tens of KHz and independent control of each droplet in terms of size, position and chemical makeup. The use of droplets in complex chemical and biological processing relies on the ability to perform a range of integrated, unit operations in high- throughput. Such operations include droplet generation, droplet merging/fusion, droplet sorting, droplet splitting, droplet dilution, droplet storage and droplet sampling. Whilst droplet-based microfluidic systems can be used to perform a range of chemical and biological experiments, including enzymatic and DNA assays and nanomaterial synthesis, the handling and processing fluids with instantaneous volumes on the fL-nL scale represents a critical challenge for molecular detection. To this end, I will describe how the application of novel optical techniques ensures that rates of information extraction can match rates of information generation. Central to this discussion will be the presentation of novel microfluidic platforms for performing high-throughput enzymatic kinetics and imaging flow cytometry.
Andrew deMello is currently Professor of Biochemical Engineering in the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences at ETH Zurich.
Prior to his arrival in Zurich, he was Professor of Chemical Nanosciences and Head of the Nanostructured Materials and Devices Section in the Chemistry Department at Imperial College London. He obtained a 1st Class Degree in Chemistry and PhD in Molecular Photophysics from Imperial College London in 1995 and subsequently held a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley.
His research interests cover a broad range of activities in the general area Of microfluidics and nanoscale science. Andrew has given over 350 invited lectures at conferences and universities in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia (including 80 plenary or keynote lectures), has published 375 papers in refereed journals, and co-authored two books.
He is currently an Associate editor for ACS Sensors and sits on the Editorial Boards of Advanced Materials Technologies, Chem and Molecular Systems Design & Engineering. He is also co-founder of two spin out companies that commercialize microfluidic technologies. Science originating from the deMello group has been recognized through multiple awards, including the 2002 SAC Silver Medal (Royal Society of Chemistry), the 2009 Clifford Paterson Medal (Royal Society), the 2009 Corday Morgan Medal (Royal Society of Chemistry), the 2012 Pioneers of Miniaturization Lectureship (Royal Society of Chemistry), the 2020 Advances in Measurement Science Lectureship Award (American Chemical Society), the 2021 Simon-Widmer Award (Swiss Chemical Society) and a 2021 Mendel Lectureship (Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic).