Microfluidics Research Project

Digital Microfluidics

DMFB Technology

A DMFB manipulates discrete liquid droplets on a 2D grid of electrodes, as shown below.


The basic premise of DMFB operation is that activating an electrode underneath a droplet holds it in place; activating adjacent electrodes while deactivating the electrode underneath induces droplet transport. Compared to other microfluidic technologies, DMFBs can induce droplet motion through electrostatic forces alone; in other words, there are no moving parts.

DMFB Transport

These capabilities provide the DMFB with a rudimentary and intuitive instruction set architecture (ISA) consisting of five operations: {Transport, Split, Merge, Mix, and Store}. Additional ISA operations can be realized by adding external sensors and actuators such as heaters, optical detectors, etc. The ISA provides an interpretation of a DMFB as a spatial computing device, albeit, one that executes biochemical reactions as opposed to computation.

DMFB Instruction Set

A DMFB is typically mounted on a Printed Circuit Board (PCB), and is controlled by a host PC. The most common setup is for a microcontroller, such as an Arduino, to interface directly with the DMFB, while the host PC communicates with the microcontroller via USB.


Please direct any questions, comments, or other inquiries to the following e-mail address: microfluidics@cs.ucr.edu


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Numbers 1035603, 1536026, and 1545097. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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