This study presents a new microfluidic chip that generates micro-scale emulsion droplets for gene delivery applications. Compared with conventional methods of droplet formation, the proposed chip can create uniform droplets (size variation <7.1%) and hence enhance the efficiency of the subsequent gene delivery. A new microfluidic chip was developed in this study, which used a new design with a pneumatic membrane chamber integrated into a T-junction microchannel. Traditionally, the size of droplets was controlled by the flow rate ratio of the continuous and disperse phase flows, which can be controlled by syringe pumps. In this study, a pneumatic chamber near the intersection of the T-junction channel was designed to locally change the flow velocity and the shear force. When the upper air chamber was filled with compressed air, the membrane was deflected and then the droplet size could be fine-tuned accordingly. Experimental data showed that using the new design, the higher the air pressure applied to the active tunable membrane, the smaller the droplet size. Finally, droplets were used as carriers for DNA to be transfected into the Cos-7 cells. It was also experimentally found that the size of the emulsion droplets plays an important role on the efficiency of the gene delivery.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Materials Chemistry