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      Passive and active droplet generation with microfluidics: a review.

      1 , 1
      Lab on a chip
      Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)

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          Abstract

          Precise and effective control of droplet generation is critical for applications of droplet microfluidics ranging from materials synthesis to lab-on-a-chip systems. Methods for droplet generation can be either passive or active, where the former generates droplets without external actuation, and the latter makes use of additional energy input in promoting interfacial instabilities for droplet generation. A unified physical understanding of both passive and active droplet generation is beneficial for effectively developing new techniques meeting various demands arising from applications. Our review of passive approaches focuses on the characteristics and mechanisms of breakup modes of droplet generation occurring in microfluidic cross-flow, co-flow, flow-focusing, and step emulsification configurations. The review of active approaches covers the state-of-the-art techniques employing either external forces from electrical, magnetic and centrifugal fields or methods of modifying intrinsic properties of flows or fluids such as velocity, viscosity, interfacial tension, channel wettability, and fluid density, with a focus on their implementations and actuation mechanisms. Also included in this review is the contrast among different approaches of either passive or active nature.

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          Most cited references311

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          Microfluidics: Fluid physics at the nanoliter scale

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            ENGINEERING FLOWS IN SMALL DEVICES

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              Droplet microfluidics.

              Droplet-based microfluidic systems have been shown to be compatible with many chemical and biological reagents and capable of performing a variety of "digital fluidic" operations that can be rendered programmable and reconfigurable. This platform has dimensional scaling benefits that have enabled controlled and rapid mixing of fluids in the droplet reactors, resulting in decreased reaction times. This, coupled with the precise generation and repeatability of droplet operations, has made the droplet-based microfluidic system a potent high throughput platform for biomedical research and applications. In addition to being used as microreactors ranging from the nano- to femtoliter range; droplet-based systems have also been used to directly synthesize particles and encapsulate many biological entities for biomedicine and biotechnology applications. This review will focus on the various droplet operations, as well as the numerous applications of the system. Due to advantages unique to droplet-based systems, this technology has the potential to provide novel solutions to today's biomedical engineering challenges for advanced diagnostics and therapeutics.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Lab Chip
                Lab on a chip
                Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
                1473-0189
                1473-0189
                December 20 2016
                : 17
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China. lqwang@hku.hk and HKU-Zhejiang Institute of Research and Innovation (HKU-ZIRI), 311300, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China.
                Article
                10.1039/c6lc01018k
                27841886
                b752218d-ce39-4e82-94d4-12ee083efcf9
                History

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