Pixelated chemical displays offer versatile liquid handling

Pixelated chemical displays offer versatile liquid handling

Automated liquid handling (ALH) systems efficiently deposit small volumes of liquid using multiple pipette heads simultaneously. Despite their widespread use in academic and industrial laboratories, most existing ALH systems are simply robots that perform the human pipetting movement, and a growing number of applications require fluid manipulation beyond what is currently possible.

To address this need, the authors developed the pixelated chemical display (PCD)—a versatile liquid handling system based on open-space microfluidics. The researchers used 3D printing to fabricate PCDs that could simultaneously project 144 pixels—independent reagent streams—onto surfaces, providing very stable and regular flow patterns.

The streams could be co-localized above a surface and reconfigured over time with precise spatiotemporal control.

The authors used PCDs to deposit a precise silver pattern on thin plastic film. Unlike previously developed open-space microfluidic devices, PCDs are massively parallel, can be scaled to any size, and can operate over dry surfaces, not just immersed surfaces.

According to the authors, PCDs are compatible with a wide range of solvents and acids and may have broad applications in biology, chemistry, and materials science.