All-aqueous multiphase microfluidics.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1063/1.4827916
Immiscible aqueous phases, formed by dissolving incompatible solutes in water, have been used in green chemical synthesis, molecular extraction and mimicking of cellular cytoplasm. Recently, a microfluidic approach has been introduced to generate all-aqueous emulsions and jets based on these immiscible aqueous phases; due to their biocompatibility, these all-aqueous structures have shown great promises as templates for fabricating biomaterials. The physico-chemical nature of interfaces between two immiscible aqueous phases leads to unique interfacial properties, such as an ultra-low interfacial tension. Strategies to manipulate components and direct their assembly at these interfaces needs to be explored. In this paper, we review progress on the topic over the past few years, with a focus on the fabrication and stabilization of all-aqueous structures in a multiphase microfluidic platform. We also discuss future efforts needed from the perspectives of fluidic physics, materials engineering, and biology for fulfilling potential applications ranging from materials fabrication to biomedical engineering.