Enhanced Cell/Bead Encapsulation Via Acoustic Focusing

Tech ID: 27188 / UC Case 2015-506-0

Brief Description

The invention consists of a multi-channel, droplet-generating microfluidic device with a strategically placed feature. The feature vibrates in order to counteract particle-trapping micro-vortices formed in the device. Counteracting these vortices allows for single particle encapsulation in the droplets formed by the device and makes this technology a good candidate for use in single cell diagnostics and drug delivery systems.

Full Description

Devices that rely on the movement and manipulation of small quantities of fluids are known as microfluidic devices. These devices contain a combination of micro-channels, through which fluids flow, and, often, flow-focusing regions for the manipulation of those fluids. A subclass of microfluidic devices, which are configured to produce droplets of fluids, has the potential to be valuable to the advancement of targeted drug delivery systems and single cell diagnostics due to their ability to encapsulate particles, such as single cells or therapeutic agents, in the generated fluid droplets. One drawback to using droplet generating microfluidic devices to encapsulate particles is that the particles of interest may become trapped in micro-vortices that form in the flow-focusing regions of the device, instead of becoming encapsulated. Additionally, due to Poisson’s stochastic distribution, when particle encapsulations occur, they may occur as multi-particle encapsulations in a single droplet, leading to heterogeneity in the final product.

Researchers at UCI have invented a droplet generating microfluidic device that uses a strategically placed feature to create counter-vortices in the flow-focusing region of the device. The characteristics of the feature are tunable and are controlled easily. Counteracting the micro-vortices results in fewer trapped particles and a higher number of particle encapsulations. The parameters of the feature can also be tuned to enhance the number of single particle encapsulations over existing methods (such as magnetic bead or cytometry-based approaches), making this technology a prime candidate for single cell diagnostics and applications where a homogeneous final product is vital (such as in drug delivery systems).

Suggested uses

-Cellular diagnostics (such as rare cell identification)

-Drug delivery systems

-Environmental applications (water sample testing, etc.)


*Higher encapsulation efficiency

*Higher homogeneity in the final product (makes this a possible technology for drug delivery where dosing must be uniform)

State Of Development

Currently in testing

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Published Application 20170189909 07/06/2017 2015-506


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Other Information


Microfluidics, Encapsulation, Acoustics

Categorized As

  • Institute for Innovation Logo
  • Institute for Innovation Logo

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