Droplet-interfacing strategies in microscale electrophoresis for sample treatment, separation and quantification: A review.


In this study, for the first time we report on a comprehensive overview of different strategies to hyphenate droplet-based sample handling and preparation with electrophoretic separation in different formats (i.e. microchip and capillary electrophoresis). Droplet-interfaced electrophoresis is an emerging technique in which micro/nanometric droplets are used as a bridge and carrier of target analytes between sample treatment and electrokinetic separation steps, thus being expected to overcome the challenges of working dimension mismatch and low degree of module integration. This review covers all works on this topic from 2006 (the year of the first communication) up to 2020, with focus being given to three principal interfacing strategies, including droplets in immiscible phases, digital microfluidics with electrowetting-on-dielectric principle and inkjet droplet generation. Different instrumental developments for such purpose, the viewpoints on pros and cons of these designs as well as application demonstrations of droplet-interfaced electrokinetic strategies are discussed.