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Published May 19, 2022 | Accepted Version + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Modularizable Liquid‐Crystal‐Based Open Surfaces Enable Programmable Chemical Transport and Feeding using Liquid Droplets


Droplet-based miniature reactors have attracted interest in both fundamental studies, for the unique reaction kinetics they enable, and applications in bio-diagnosis and material synthesis. However, the precise and automatic feeding of chemicals, important for the delicate reactions in these miniaturized chemical reactors, either requires complex, high-cost microfluidic devices or lacks the capability to maintain a pinning-free droplet movement. Here, the design and synthesis of a new class of liquid crystal (LC)-based open surfaces, which enable a controlled chemical release via a programmable LC phase transition without sacrificing the free transport of the droplets, are reported. It is demonstrated that their intrinsic slipperiness and self-healing properties enable a modularizable assembly of LC surfaces that can be loaded with different chemicals to achieve a wide range of chemical reactions carried out within the droplets, including sequential and parallel chemical reactions, crystal growth, and polymer synthesis. Finally, an LC-based chemical feeding device is developed that can automatically control the release of chemicals to direct the simultaneous differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cells into endothelial progenitor cells and cardiomyocytes. Overall, these LC surfaces exhibit desirable levels of automation, responsiveness, and controllability for use in miniature droplet carriers and reactors.

Additional Information

© 2022 Wiley-VCH. Issue Online: 19 May 2022. Version of Record online: 17 April 2022. Accepted manuscript online: 25 March 2022. Manuscript revised: 10 December 2021. Manuscript received: 01 November 2021. X.W. thanks the funding support by the startup funds of The Ohio State University (OSU) and OSU Institute for Materials Research Kickstart Facility Grant. X.B. thanks the funding support by the startup funds of Davidson School of Chemical Engineering at Purdue University. Data Availability Statement. The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Attached Files

Accepted Version - Advanced_Materials_-_2022_-_Xu_-_Modularizable_liquid_crystal‐based_open_surfaces_enable_programmable_chemical_transport.pdf

Supplemental Material - adma202108788-sup-0001-suppmat.pdf

Supplemental Material - adma202108788-sup-0002-movies1.mp4

Supplemental Material - adma202108788-sup-0003-movies2.mp4

Supplemental Material - adma202108788-sup-0004-movies3.mp4

Supplemental Material - adma202108788-sup-0005-movies4.mp4


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August 22, 2023
October 23, 2023