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A Versatile, Low-Cost, Multiway Microfluidic Sorter for Droplets, Cells, and Embryos

Utharala, Ramesh, Tseng, Qingzong, Furlong, Eileen E. M., Merten, Christoph A.
Analytical chemistry 2018 v.90 no.10 pp. 5982-5988
computers, droplets, fluorescence microscopes, image analysis, phenotype
Partitioning and sorting particles, including molecules, cells and organisms, is an essential prerequisite for a diverse range of applications. Here, we describe a very economical microfluidic platform (built from parts costing about U.S. $6800 for a stand-alone system or U.S. $3700, when mounted on an existing fluorescence microscope connected to a computer) to sort droplets, cells and embryos, based on imaging data. Valves operated by a Braille display are used to open and close microfluidic channels, enabling sorting at rates of >2 Hz. Furthermore, we show microfluidic 8-way sorting for the first time, facilitating the simultaneous separation and collection of objects with diverse characteristics/phenotypes. Due to the high flexibility in the size of objects that can be sorted, the low cost, and the many possibilities enabled by imaging technology, we believe that our approach nicely complements existing FACS and μFACS technology.