On-demand, parallel droplet merging method with non-contact droplet pairing in droplet-based microfluidics

  • Sanghyun Lee
  • Hojin Kim
  • Dong-Joon Won
  • Jaehyung Lee
  • Joonwon KimEmail author
Research Paper


We demonstrate a simple approach for merging droplets in an on-demand, parallel manner via non-contact pairing of two droplets. The non-contact pairing can be achieved by exploiting flow-induced deformability of a droplet with a unique structure of merging element. Non-contact paired droplets, which are initially stabilized by surfactant molecules, can be merged simply by destabilizing the droplet interface and bringing two droplets into contact. On-demand, parallel droplet merging is performed with a proper pressure profile achieved by a pneumatic pressure supply system, and merging process is solely dependent on the pressure-driven fluid flow. We achieved an average merging efficiency of 90.0 % (SD = 3.14, n = 450) in performing parallel merging in a non-contact paired droplet array. We also evaluated the on-demand merging performance by measuring the average merging delay time (mean = 3.25 s, SD ± 1.09 s, n ~ 180). Furthermore, we demonstrated the applicability of our device for the initiation of a chemical reaction through the merging of two droplets with different chemical contents. We believe that the proposed method will be useful for studying various droplet-based reactions.


Droplet-based microfluidics Deformability On-demand droplet merging Laplace trap Non-contact pairing 



This research was supported by BioNano Health-Guard Research Center funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (MSIP) of Korea as Global Frontier Project (H-GUARD_2014M3A6B2060526) and Basic Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (2012R1A1A2006305), and a grant of the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (Grant Number: HI15C0001).

Supplementary material

10404_2015_1676_MOESM1_ESM.docx (6.6 mb)
Characterization of the effect of the front neck width and droplet diameter on required suction pressure to droplet trap or squeeze, design of a droplet generation device, experimental setup (DOCX 6789 kb)
10404_2015_1676_MOESM2_ESM.wmv (1.9 mb)
Entire droplet merging process (WMV 1953 kb)
10404_2015_1676_MOESM3_ESM.wmv (4.4 mb)
Entire droplet merging process (WMV 4525 kb)

Droplet merging behavior under two pairing modes (WMV 1369 kb)

10404_2015_1676_MOESM5_ESM.wmv (435 kb)
Demonstration of chemical reaction initiation by proposed droplet merging method (WMV 434 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sanghyun Lee
    • 1
  • Hojin Kim
    • 1
  • Dong-Joon Won
    • 1
  • Jaehyung Lee
    • 2
  • Joonwon Kim
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringPohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)PohangRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Stratio, Inc.Menlo ParkUSA

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