Let’s start with the foundation of our techonology:
What is microfluidics?
Microfluidics is the controlled and measured manipulation of fluids (liquids or gases) at the microscale through channels, tubing, and junctions on a microscale chip to create droplets and particles with defined properties.
Microfluidics is a technology that involves the manipulation of small volumes of fluids at a microscale. Microfluidic devices handle liquids differently depending in the chosen applications: producing continuous flow in which liquids can be mixed or separated, or generating discrete vessels, e.g., droplets. Requiring low reagent volumes to quickly generate reactions at a high throughput rate, microfluidics is an extremely useful tool for studying biology as it can reduce the cost and time of experiments, leading to more advancement in life sciences.
Microfluidics as a solution for life sciences
In life sciences, microfluidics is used to study biological processes at the cellular and molecular level. Microfluidics has previously been used in the study of single cells, vaccine development, and drug discovery.
Microfluidic devices can precisely manipulate small volumes of fluids, producing large numbers of reaction vessels in a short period time, giving researchers the ability to perform multiple experiments simultaneously.
This technology allows more experiments to be done, more consistently, more reproducibly and faster than previous methods, reducing the amount of time and resources required for biological research.
The thinking behind our technology
Originally developed as a micro-encapsulator system by Dolomite Micro, the Nadia was engineered to simplify microfluidics for users. The system allows researchers to automatically perform predefined protocols, requiring no previous microfluidic knowledge. Results are accurate, consistent, and reproducible. With easy-to-follow instructions and guide lights for loading, the Nadia is an easy way to get started with microfluidics.
The Nadia Go and Nadia Innovate give users more flexibility while maintaining ease of use. These systems allow for the customization of parameters which influence droplet or particle size, gives reagent flexibility and the ability to scale up optimised protocols. Users can develop protocols that fit their applications. Depending on whether the option to scale up is required, users can choose between the Nadia Innovate or the Nadia Go, which is a lower cost platform that offers the flexible microfluidic features of the Nadia Innovate without scale up capabilities.
The precision engingeering behind our product features
Why use chips made of polymer?
While glass chips have many performance benefits, their use in microfluidic devices requires the mixing of fluids using tubing. As this is a potential risk for cross contamination, chips used with the Nadia product family are made from a plastic polymer and are designed to be single use and disposable.
The channels and junctions are injection moulded onto the surface of the chip, removing the need for ‘wetted’ components. Using plastic also gives more flexibility in features that can be added to the chip e.g stirrers and reservoirs. The specific polymer chosen, COC, has a combination of optical, thermal, and chemical properties that make it ideal for use in our systems.
The chip maintains structural stability at a wide range of temperatures while allowing the user to see in real time what is happening on the chip.
Why use stirrers?
Stirrer technology is unique to the Nadia product family and guarantees even dispersal of biologicals in their carrier solutions prior to pressurisation and manipulation through the microfluidic channels and junction. By maintaining biologicals in a homogeneous suspension, the stirrers help reduce the chance of blocking channels within the chip.
Why is temperature control important?
All chemical and biological reactions are affected by temperature. Controlling temperature allows for the optimisation of conditions for applications. The Nadia product family can heat or cool reagents between 4°C and 40°C before, during and after the run.
scRNA-Seq experiments require high quality transcriptomic data. Keeping cells cool will prevent stress and maintaining their transcriptomic state.
Hydrogels may require high temperatures to remain molten allowing them to flow through the chip without blockage.
Surrounding temperature can also affect the viscosity of liquids, maintaining control will ensure the instrument performs the same no matter the temperature in the lab.
Why use air pneumatic pressure, not flow sensors with tubing?
The chips are designed to be self-contained and disposable.
There are no wetted parts on the instrument to prevent cross contamination of samples. Channels on the chip are micrometres in diameter, flow sensors are too large to fit on the chip.
The impact of microfluidics on your research
Why droplets in microfluidics?
In the context of microfluidics, droplets refer to small picolitre volumes of fluid that are a few micrometers in size. The spheres are formed by encapsulating an aqueous solution in an oil carrier phase under controlled conditions.
By altering the flow rates of these immiscible liquids, it is possible to generate droplets of a desired size. Generating droplets, which are essentially discrete reaction vessels, using microfluidics rapidly produces thousands of reproducible, compartmentalized reactions to be carried out in parallel.
Why use microfluidics over batch methods?
Utilizing microfluidics’ ability to create high throughput droplets using small volumes of reagents gives more control over the mixing of fluids than batch methods.
Droplets produced with microfluidics are uniform and highly reproducible compared to mixing reagents using pipettes. Individual reaction vessels allow the same reaction to be repeated under the same conditions or separate experiments to be performed on the same sample. Droplet and particle production is automated and faster when using microfluidics, reducing the cost of experiments.
Why is monodispersity important?
Depending on the application, monodispersity is important to ensure each droplet/particle contains the same volume of reagents. Differing size and diameter of product will chance the concentration of reagent dramatically causing a different reaction to occur. To keep experiments consistent there needs to be an equal distribution of cargo and reagents in each droplet/particle.