Microfluidic Formation of Membrane-Free Aqueous Coacervate Droplets in Water

Dirk van Swaay, T. Y Dora Tang, Stephen Mann, Andrew de Mello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


We report on the formation of coacervate droplets from poly(diallyldimethylammonium chloride) with either adenosine triphosphate or carboxymethyl-dextran using a microfluidic flow-focusing system. The formed droplets exhibit improved stability and narrower size distributions for both coacervate compositions when compared to the conventional vortex dispersion techniques. We also demonstrate the use of two parallel flow-focusing channels for the simultaneous formation and co-location of two distinct populations of coacervate droplets containing different DNA oligonucleotides, and that the populations can coexist in close proximity up to 48 h without detectable exchange of genetic information. Our results show that the observed improvements in droplet stability and size distribution may be scaled with ease. In addition, the ability to encapsulate different materials into coacervate droplets using a microfluidic channel structure allows for their use as cell-mimicking compartments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11429-11432
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2015

Structured keywords

  • BrisSynBio
  • Bristol BioDesign Institute


  • Coacervate
  • Microfluidics
  • Microreactors
  • Polymers
  • Protocells


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