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Microfluidic Droplet-Based Liquid−Liquid Extraction

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Laboratory of Microfluidics, UMR Gulliver, and the Laboratory of Biology, UMR 7637, ESPCI, 10 rue Vauquelin, 75005 Paris, France
Cite this: Anal. Chem. 2008, 80, 8, 2680–2687
Publication Date (Web):March 20, 2008
Copyright © 2008 American Chemical Society

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    We study microfluidic systems in which mass exchanges take place between moving water droplets, formed on-chip, and an external phase (octanol). Here, no chemical reaction takes place, and the mass exchanges are driven by a contrast in chemical potential between the dispersed and continuous phases. We analyze the case where the microfluidic droplets, occupying the entire width of the channel, extract a solutefluoresceinfrom the external phase (extraction) and the opposite case, where droplets reject a soluterhodamineinto the external phase (purification). Four flow configurations are investigated, based on straight or zigzag microchannels. Additionally to the experimental work, we performed two-dimensional numerical simulations. In the experiments, we analyze the influence of different parameters on the process (channel dimensions, fluid viscosities, flow rates, drop size, droplet spacing, ...). Several regimes are singled out. In agreement with the mass transfer theory of Young et al. (Young, W.; Pumir, A.; Pomeau, Y. Phys. FluidsA1989, 1, 462), we find that, after a short transient, the amount of matter transferred across the droplet interface grows as the square root of time and the time it takes for the transfer process to be completed decreases as Pe-2/3, where Pe is the Peclet number based on droplet velocity and radius. The numerical simulation is found in excellent consistency with the experiment. In practice, the transfer time ranges between a fraction and a few seconds, which is much faster than conventional systems.

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     To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:  pascaline.mary@

     Laboratory of Microfluidics.

     Laboratory of Biology.

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