Droplets for sampling and transport of chemical signals in biosensing: a review

Shilun Feng*, Elham Shirani, David W. Inglis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


The chemical, temporal, and spatial resolution of chemical signals that are sampled and transported with continuous flow is limited because of Taylor dispersion. Droplets have been used to solve this problem by digitizing chemical signals into discrete segments that can be transported for a long distance or a long time without loss of chemical, temporal or spatial precision. In this review, we describe Taylor dispersion, sampling theory, and Laplace pressure, and give examples of sampling probes that have used droplets to sample or/and transport fluid from a continuous medium, such as cell culture or nerve tissue, for external analysis. The examples are categorized, as follows: (1) Aqueous-phase sampling with downstream droplet formation; (2) preformed droplets for sampling; and (3) droplets formed near the analyte source. Finally, strategies for downstream sample recovery for conventional analysis are described.

Original languageEnglish
Article number80
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • microfluidic probe
  • droplet
  • sampling
  • Taylor dispersion


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